Matthew Barber Reaching for a Fresh Frontier

Monday 26th, February 2018 / 15:20
By Andrew Bardsley 

Photo by Scott Doubt


CALGARY – Canadian folk-singer Matthew Barber is getting a tad bit older, having turned 40 last year. As a staple of the Canadian singer-songwriter genre since 1999, he believes his music is maturing along with him. Known for his traditional, melancholic style and critically-praised albums, including The Family Album (2016) in which he teamed-up with his sister Jill, who is also an accomplished singer, Barber branches out on his most recent album, Phase of the Moon.   

“While this album isn’t radically different I feel like it is just a natural evolution in my song writing, but it still certainly has vintage singer songwriter influences. I try to make it sound relevant and contemporary, but my main influences are still older records. It is not a melancholy record I suppose, but it is also not a party record, it is a contemplative record.” 

The recording also reflects Barber’s diverse musical ability: “I did something kind of new this time. I played all the parts myself, aside from a couple string arrangements. I played the guitar, bass, drums, vocals, all that kind of thing.”  

Over the years, Barber has invested heavily trying to perfect the art of recording, if possible. “I’m always sort of looking for new ways to make records. It’s sort of chasing this mysterious thing of what it is to make a perfect record. It’s hard to make a great record and I feel like I have been chasing this my entire career.”  

Moving into middle age, Barber is also chasing history noting his music has weathered alongside with him. “I feel like when I was in my early 20s my life had more of spontaneity and excitement and everything is kind of happening for the first time. And now it is more about looking back, I have more responsibility and I have more pressure to feel like an adult.”  

On the cusp of his ninth full-length and not content to rely on formula, he believes an artist needs to strive and reach for something beyond. “It is more than just having good songs and good players, you have to have this sort of intangible element that emerges. I mean there is a reason that not every record attains that even though all the pieces might be there.”  

Matthew Barber performs March 5 at The Imperial (Vancouver), March 6 at Geomatic Attic (Red Deer), March 8 at Marquee beer market and stage, and March 9 at The Starlite Room (Edmonton). 

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