The Barr Brothers - Sleeping Operator

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2014-10-06

(Singer) Brad and (drummer) Andrew Barr’s sophomore album reunites them with harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial for another set of mystical folk tunes edging into new age territory (in a good way). Instrumental opener ‘Static Orphans’ flutters into the room like cascading waterfalls, morphing into ‘Love Ain’t Enough’, a self-assured rocker Tom Petty fans won’t turn their noses up at (or ears away from). A nice fuzz solo is a surprising addition. ‘Wolves’ has a pleasant country twang, with Brad’s soft vocals assuming a conversational tone that suggests he might actually be pretty cool to hang out with.

There’s a faint glow of Dylanesque (father and son) melodicism wandering through the album and I think I heard a hint of Leonard Cohen’s influence in a few songs, with John Prine’s lyrical gift of gab and melody peeking in every once in a while (eg, the walking blues of ‘Even the Darkness Has Arms’; the tender ballad ‘How The Heroine Dies’; the anthemic stomper 'England'). Crystal clear guitar-lines, the occasional keyboard flourish and Page’s angelic harp pluckings form a solid instrumental backing to heartfelt, personal tales inspired by real life tragedies (‘Come in the Water’), Yeats’ Easter 1916 poem (‘England’), babysitting (‘Little Lover’), or just hanging out smokin’ joints and enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings (‘How the Heroine Dies’).

It’s a mellow, relaxing, laid-back affair that’ll put a smile in your heart and a jump in your step with a little country, a little blues, a little funk (the self-described "North African desert music-meets-Chicago-blues" shuffle of ‘Half Crazy’), and a whole lotta folkin’ goin on, just like the best of all Americana. This is a good 'un that deserves your time and attention.

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