Emily Barker: Sweet Kind of Blue

review barker x1 cong

Barker has turned out a couple of folk/country albums that have been ok, but never enough to make the listener sit up and listen. Well-written songs, played well to be sure, but lacking that spark, with the exception of her Vena Portae project. (If you’ve never heard of her, she wrote the theme to BBC crime drama Wallander).

This new album sees her move to blues and it’s a mixed bag; as we sometimes say, if this was vinyl you’d play side one, while side two would remain pristine.

The title track opens and it’s bluesy country, which reminded us of a lively Dolly Parton. The slower Sister Goodbye is a standout, a slower pop/blues ballad that just caresses the ears. It’s lovely. Sunrise, a cocky blues number with a hint of gospel that put us in mind of Arkansas Traveller-era Michelle Shocked, is also excellent.

No5 Hurricane and If We Forgot To Dance are more undemanding, but if this was side one you’d hang on for the so-so Crazy Life.

Nice arrangements delivered with class, but ultimately just a little too bland.

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