By Leah Siegel
The world was a different place when Jill Barber began writing Metaphora nearly two years ago. The Vancouver-based chanteuse wanted to create something distinct from her nostalgic love songs.
When it came to previous albums like Chansons, “I was writing to kind of create a world to escape into, for myself and for my audience,” she says. “But with this record, I actually didn’t want to have any nostalgia in it. I wanted it to sound very contemporary, because I was ready to finally address some very current issues in my life, and the world.”
Now, with Metaphora, Barber presents to her listeners a much more personal side.
“I allowed myself to be a little bit more vulnerable, less arm’s length, and just more raw,” she says on the phone from her hometown of Toronto. “Whereas my previous stuff, although I think it was intimate, I wasn’t maybe brave enough to tackle certain subjects.”
Part of this new bravery, she thinks, comes from experience. “At this point in my career, it’s not like I have something to prove like I did when I was first releasing records. Now I feel like I’ve really earned the right to experiment as an artist, and to express myself fully without worrying about how people will respond to it.”
The result is an edgier set of songs. Barber sings of standing up, of fighting back, of the complexity of womanhood, a timely playlist fit for the #MeToo era. She finished work on the album in September 2017, and many of the things that have happened in the time since—the increasingly open dialogue on sexual assault, for instance, and the new willingness for victims to speak out against their abusers—have been cathartic for her. “I feel like for years we’ve been whispering about our experiences amongst ourselves,” Barber reflects. “And it was so satisfying when that whisper really became a roar.”
Jill Barber performs at the Vogue Theatre (Vancouver) on November 1.