Barbara J. releases new LP

Barbara J. releases new LP

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Rollicking acoustic guitar strings come spilling out of our speakers as Barbara J. starts to sing. Her vocal is adorned with an effervescent texture, partly appointed by the surgically precise master mix and partly generated from the natural timbre of her voice. Drums lightly season the melody with a percussive strut that is both relaxed and inviting, and while the words are as familiar today as when we first heard them in the original version of “Crazy Love,” they take on a much more erudite sway in this new cover, which makes up only a fraction of what listeners can expect to find in Barbara J.’s new record A Box Full of Records.

Alongside fellow singles “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “Everybody’s Gotta’ Learn Sometime,” “Crazy Love” welcomes us into the dexterous sonic profile of its singer in a way not previously made available to us in her debut, and though she didn’t pen any of these iconic songs from the 70’s and 80’s, she manages to put enough of an original spin on their framework to make them feel as smart and relatable as ever.


“Rainy Days and Mondays” is structured around its evocative piano part, but Barbara J steals a large portion of the spotlight away from the gentle melody the very moment that she starts to croon. The words wrap around us slowly but surely, and by the time we reach the chorus, it’s as if we were blanketed in a surreal warmth that is as tender and embracive as a hug from a distant friend we had once thought lost forever. There’s so much attention to intricate detail here, with the production value of the track providing a sleek cosmetic finish to the harmonies that makes them almost transcendent of traditional boundaries between artist and audience, but I wouldn’t say that this song is rife with pop plasticity – in fact, quite the contrary. Every note that Barbara J emits from her lips is seamlessly woven into the fabric of the background instrumentation, but it never feels like we’re listening to the product of highbrow studio techniques alone. My gut tells me that she would be just as powerful and confident singing this ballad live – if not, perhaps, a little bit more so.


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A cerebral physicality adds to the psychedelic twists and turns in “Everybody’s Gotta’ Learn Sometime,” and in my opinion, this track’s seductive, vacuum-like grooves are more than enough reason to justify picking up a copy of A Box Full of Records this March. Barbara J. is flirting with a strain of surrealism that she wears better than almost anyone else in her scene, and in these three singles, we get an up close and personal look at her broadly constructed artistry that is like nothing else in contemporary music at the moment. Though these tracks are only a taste of what the entire album has in store for anyone who gives it a spin this spring, I think that they have the potential to elevate the moniker of their star performer to heights that she had previously only dreamed of.


Jamie Morse

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