Music Review // Clara Barker – Fine Art & The Breslins

With eye catching art work from Oscar nominated artist Juan Moore this new album from Manx singer-songwriter Clara Barker is a nice little package. The music inside, of course, makes the whole much more essential…

With a low key but insistent sound that knows how to get into your head like the best earworm, this second album is the kind of thing that you hear in your local independent café and wonder just what you’ve heard. Indeed, continuing the coffee metaphor, Fine Art & The Breslins is what that Sunday morning slow cappuccino would sound like if it were put to music.

In turns sunny and contemplative, yet imbued with dark undertones that can’t help but make you nod along the album is not in a hurry to reach its conclusion. The pace is rarely faster than a sun dazed walk in the desert, but like any trip, it’s the journey that counts. By the time you reach the end of the album the listener has seen enough to know that the music on this album may be mostly quiet in its nature but the repeat listen will bring more to the experience.

Closer Seth’s Song amps things up a little, but it’s an ethereal lift rather than a hard edged guitar chord. Saving such a tempo change for the very last track makes a perfect sense when the music mostly draws light strokes on a sonic canvas that rarely reaches the neon of the urban environment. Indeed, it’s the logical end for the journey and one that has the effect of making the listener want to repeat the experience.

Perhaps it’s an easy comparison to make, but in listening to Fine Art & The Breslins, you can’t help but reminded of the deceptively soft sound of later Ani Di Franco or the trademark Nashville sound now known as Americana. Perhaps even, given the landscapes of her Isle of Man home, the picturesque images evoked by her sparse but literate sound make perfect sense.

Fine Art & The Breslins is available now from Small Bear Records.

(Sebastian Gahan)

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