Release Date: Jul 8, 2013
Record label: Linn Records
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock
It’s been a strange few years for folk music. For the vast majority of its practitioners, it’s been business as usual, but for a select few, it’s been getting steadily more critically acclaimed throughout the 21st Century. Then, it made a half-hearted bid for the mainstream around half a decade ago (thanks for nothing, Noah & The Whale) before, most bizarrely of all, in a cultural landscape seemingly governed by Skrillex and Deadmau5, tweed-sporting banjo-botherers Mumford & Sons somehow became one of the world’s biggest bands.
Previously, the more ethereally slanted side of Barker’s musical output found her in great demand for TV soundtrack work, her songs used as themes for BBC dramas Wallander and The Shadow Line bringing Bafta and Ivor Novello awards recognition. Dear River finds the Australian and her all-female band flexing bigger muscles, producing a much fuller sound that’s closer to the powerful noise they make on stage. The title track struts along with the assured country classicism of Mary Chapin Carpenter or Shawn Colvin, one of several inclusions that focus on thoughts of exile, displacement and family.
Brought up in Australia but now living in the UK, Emily Barker has a gift for great melodies and Americana-influenced songs, ranging from the chugging country-rock of the title track to the melodic ballad Sleeping Horses or the harmonica-driven Ghost Narrative, with its echoes of Neil Young. Her latest album is released by a label that prides itself on audio quality, and her producer is Calum Malcolm from Blue Nile. No surprise, then, that this should be a classy, lush production, helped by some fine accordion and fiddle work from her band.