Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo: Dear River


THERE’S something exciting about being introduced to a new talent, I thought, as I prepared to play Dear River for what felt like the 100th time since it landed in my grubby mitts a month or so ago.

Only it seems that Ms Barker and her all-female band aren’t so new at all, with Dear River their fourth album since 2006. Ah. I’m not so ahead of the pack at all, then.

Not that this matters a jot to the fact that Dear River is a marvellous record. Whether it’s country, bluegrass or Americana I can’t say I’m entirely sure – but what I do know is that the whole LP is that much mocked and stupidly underestimated thing, an easy listen.

The Australian possesses a rare knack for insistently catchy melody (see Everywhen), tremendous balladeering, most impressively on Letters, which ups the album’s ante on track three after Dear River and Tuesday, no slouches themselves.

Her voice is by turns pure as the driven snow and capable of conveying real urgency (the afore-mentioned Tuesday) and the whole thing sounds like a particularly good episode of Bob Harris’ excellent Radio 2 country show. Don’t miss it.


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