Release Date: Jan 19, 2010
Record label: Gnomonsong
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
What were you expecting from the guitarist for Vetiver? Doom metal? Reggaeton? It shouldn't come as any great shock to anyone that axeman Kevin Barker's first venture outside the Vetiver fold is full of lambent, low-key folk-rock very much in the vein of his Andy Cabic-led day job. Considering that fact that the aforementioned band is among the finest practitioner of the contemporary beard-band scene, and that Barker's liquid guitar tones play an important role in their sound, the similarity is nothing to despair over. Vetiver drummer Otto Hauser is on hand here, too, and Barker's gentle, California-dreaming vocals are not a million miles from those of Cabic, but there's (understandably) a greater emphasis on guitar work here.
You & Me is the debut record by Vetiver guitarist Kevin Barker, a veteran of the alt-folk scene who has recorded and played with many a "freak-folker," including heavyweights like Vasti Bunyan and Devendra Banhart. With guests that include Joanna Newsom, Wilco’s Pat Sansone, and Vetiver’s Otto Hauser, You & Me remains an intimate affair built upon basic arrangements that often have an epic feel. And it's mostly a comforting trip, too, with overtones of the Grateful Dead enhancing (rather than crashing) the emotional kick.
You & Me is the first album credited to singer/guitarist Kevin Barker, but it feels rather strange to call it his debut. He has previously recorded several albums with his long-running project Currituck County, and as a sideman-for-hire he has performed with an impressive array of talents, including Joanna Newsom, Vashti Bunyan, and Antony and the Johnsons. Yet for better or worse the gig that seems to have most impacted Barker is touring and recording with Andy Cabic in Vetiver, and You & Me almost seamlessly continues Vetiver's trail through the rustic backwoods of dazed Americana.
Kevin Barker has spent the last few years orbiting the so-called “freak folk” movement, playing bass and/or guitar with the likes of Vetiver, Devendra Banhart, and Joanna Newsom. He calls in a lot of favors on You & Me his debut album as a frontman and songwriter. As a result, his backing band features a lot of people from that crowd, including Newsom on keyboards on a couple of tracks and Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats, The Shins) doing backing vocals here and there.