Pop music is more than modern day hipster folk or EDM or millennial neo-soul. It takes a brave artist in 2017 to reach back into pop history to find inspiration for true pop power. Like Lincoln Barr, perhaps.
Eschewing the old school classic pop-rock songwriting he parlays into pleasing musical numbers with his band Red Jacket Mine, the Seattle-based singer-songwriter steps out in his own right, taking a leaf out of the Great American Songbook, to provide the canvas for his rather idiosyncratic self-portraits on the accomplished Trembling Frames.
As life is wont to throw up ironies, we often find that bad times somehow bear artistic fruit – Barr revealed in the press release that the dark themes of Trembling Frames can be credited (if that is the right word) to depression brought on by traumatic childhood experiences.
The result is an album of songs quite out of their time. Thanks to guitarist-producer Johnny Sangster, who recruited the core trio of pianist Daniel Walker, bassist Keith Lowe, and Calexico drummer John Convertino, Trembling Frames sounds authentic and part of the reason what the album is a resounding success!
Songs like “How to Escape”, “Fond of Surprises” and “She Suits Me” recall the similar forays into kinder and gentler times by no less luminaries than Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. None of the repertoire on show here pale in comparison and in fact, truly deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.
This is an album to savour over and over again. A triumph of pop’s finest instincts celebrated by a songwriter refusing to let go of ambition and the creative impulse. Kudos.
… still there’s more …