Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Standards-Based Songwriter Succeeds!

Jill Barber is a Canadian singer-songwriter like no other. If you're a fan of the American Songbook, you must get completely behind this gal!

Her ambition is to craft songs reminiscent of the standards, and I think she completely succeeds. I urge you to give her CD Mischievous Moon a good listen.  My wife and I did during a long car trip, and it's fair to say that we were entranced.

In an interview with NPR, Jill explained how she wears her influences proudly on her sleeve. I really respect her for doing so. She has to endure the slings of critics who belittle her music as being "retro" and artificial. I understand their point of view, but I can't deny how much her music seized my attention. This is not a CD that I will retire to my shelf anytime soon.

Her album borrows sounds from different decades. They're some doo-wop to take us back to the 1950s, a little bossa nova to recall Jobim, and there's a boatload of strings. The latter really shows off the Nat King Cole influence that Jill cited in her interview. Her voice is warm and exceptionally adept at delivering a lyric. Very intimate, and strikingly different.

OK, so she has a "baby voice" like Blossom Dearie or Kat Edmonson. But that's not the only reason I like her. Jill Barber has some terrific songwriting chops! I look forward to her becoming more of a presence here in the States.

She's lovely to look at too. Check out this You Tube performance of "Chances" (the opening track from her CD, and by far the catchiest number of all).

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