The Barr Brothers - Queens Of The Breakers

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-13
The Barr Brothers - Queens Of The Breakers
The Barr Brothers - Queens Of The Breakers

Like with anything you do, reviewing albums has that ‘curse’ side too. “Reviewer’s curse" would be the attempt, even a need, to compare an album or an artist to another that is more familiar. If in the case of The Barr Brothers and their third album Queens Of The Breakers you would start off with the title track, many reviewers (and certainly the listeners too) would shout out - War On Drugs! And that is where the curse kicks in.

First of all, yes, that track gets close to sounding like War On Drugs. It has to do something that the timbre of the vocals that's quite similar to that of Adam Granduciel, as well as the fact that The Barr Brothers have shared the stage with that band, among others. But then, the quality of the song itself could easily fit with any on the last two War On Drugs albums. This all begs the question, what is wrong with sounding like another artist if it sounds good, and “Queens Of The Breakers” (the song) sounds great!

That out of the way, the whole of the Queens Of The Breakers (the album) puts The Barr Brothers into the ranks of better bands delving into what is a loose category of Americana, or to be more precise Canadiana. Or both, since the brothers from Rhode Island now work and live in Montreal. And there’s more of the Canadian connection to the sound of The Barr Brothers than their place of origin. Throughout the trio’s third album there’s a prevailing atmosphere that was felt on the absolute classic that was Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Sessions, and some of the best tracks here (“Song That I Heard”) bring to mind Canadian greats like Gordon Lightfoot.

The two brothers, Brad (vocals, guitar) and Andrew (drums) each put their stamp on the music. Brad’s vocals and guitar playing are excellent throughout, and Andrew particularly shines on the impressive opener “Defibrillation,” wherein his rhythms sound like attempts to sync the heartbeat with the medical apparatus. The sound of Sarah Page’s harp, the third member of the band, changes throughout the album and gives the band’s sound that extra touch. Along with the opener, the title track, and the changes of “Song That I Heard,” which switches from intricate acoustics and harmonies to a great brass arrangement, the standout track comes somewhere in the middle of the album with “You Would Have To Lose Your Mind,” a song that exemplifies all that is good about The Barr Brothers Sound. The only track that is somewhat out of place, but by no means a throwaway is “It Comes To Me.” This song veers towards southern rock territory, fitting more the sound of a band like Chris Robinson Brotherhood (here comes that comparison curse, again). Not that there’s anything wrong with southern rock or Chris Robinson Brotherhood for that matter.

All in all, quite an impressive effort that deserves wider attention.

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