By Alix Bruch
CALGARY – “It’s the story of my life!” exclaims Jill Barber over the phone from the quiet nook of a Vancouver public library. This reaction came from discussing both the implications and liberties of not neatly fitting in any box. The singer-songwriter’s thoughts on the matter are dusted with the wisdom of someone who has unabashedly given their heart to their craft.
“At the heart of it all, I am a singer-songwriter. I love to write songs. Across genres I am a sucker for a hook, a strong chorus, lyrics, an awesome bridge. I believe in the great three or four-minute song that takes you out of where you were before, and delivers you to a new place at the end of it. It stirs something in you, moves you, makes you want to dance or want to call somebody. I think songs are amazing vehicles for experiences. And much like my record collection, which is not any one genre, my body of work is reflective of different influences and styles. I go through different phases of exploring, but at the end of the day I’m just writing songs. Songs that hopefully can transcend genres.”
Overcome with a burst of creativity, Barber injected her forthcoming album, Metaphora, with the newfound energy and excitement she felt pulsing through her veins. The record—to be released in June—takes an unlikely, but rousing turn into the realm of contemporary pop. Her eighth solo album under her belt, Barber continues to prove that there is no expiry date on creative growth.
“The number one thing that was different for me with the process of making this record is that I worked with 100 percent new people. Everyone that contributed to this record, from the song writing to the production, is someone that I’ve never worked with before. So the spirit of new and different collaboration was very much alive on this record. That made things really exciting for me.”
One such collaboration was with Ryan Guldemond, from the popular Canadian indie band Mother, Mother. Those familiar with each respective artist, this isn’t an obvious pairing, but one that offered the excitement and fresh approach Barber was craving.
“I really wanted to work with people that were outside of my musical milieu,” explains Barber. “In the last four years since my last record came out, I feel the desire to be more energetic in my music and I need it as an outlet more than ever before. I wanted to groove a little bit more, I wanted to dance, I wanted to throw my body into it.”
As a result of dancing up a storm, the spirited songstress has brought us new material that is empowering, and well, downright catchy. Metaphora is a marriage of the head and the heart: a powerful combination of strength and vulnerability. Barber has felt a change in the winds, bringing into relief the state of the world as pertaining to politics, power, and sexuality.
“Over the last four years I’ve realized there’s a lot that I want to say, and a lot of the nature of what I wanted to say needed a new musical vehicle. I wanted to get a little political for the first time as a writer. Matters of the heart have been my mainstay theme, and as a woman living in 2018 I felt the urge to start expressing myself and my beliefs in my music a little bit more. I think there’s a lot of good that can come of me just expressing how my heart feels, but I think my head is a little more in the game now.”
Prior to this new venture, Barber was busy with a special project that saw her teaming up with her older brother and fellow musical comrade, Matthew Barber. The siblings released The Family Album in 2016; an endeavour that was always on the horizon and at long last came to fruition.
“We are big fans of one another, and we have a lot of mutual respect for one another, so that was a good starting place. We had a lot of fun making this record and touring together, but I think we were also happy to return to our own original projects as well. We’re both creators, and at the end of the day we want to do things our own way.”
Jill Barber performs at the Bragg Creek Community Centre, Sat., May 5.Bragg Creek Community Centre, Jill Barber, Metaphora, The Family Album