Folk & Country 2011: 16 Best Albums

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Folk & Country 2011: 16 Best Albums
10. The Barr Brothers (Secret City)
Brad and Andrew Barr aren't the first people to undergo a cultural awakening after spending a significant amount of time in Montreal. After seven years residing in the city, it's resulted in the brothers from Providence, RI producing a debut album containing many recognizable textures of the Montreal scene to complement their already solid folk and blues foundation. Those who have already discovered the album's beauty can credit a freak twist of fate for its mere existence. The Barrs' previous band, the Slip, had a Montreal gig end with the club catching on fire, with Andrew meeting his future wife during the ensuing melee. The next several years saw the brothers fully immersing themselves in Montreal's musical community, and while they are responsible for most aspects of the Barr Brothers, the sounds that have become associated with the city, such as Jace Lasek and Howard Bilerman's widescreen productions and the late Llasa de Sela's genre-defying mysticism, are the album's most distinctive features. More simply, though, few other Canadian releases in recent memory have so deftly bridged the gap between guitar/drums blues stomps with fragile acoustic balladry without even pausing for breath. To have a first-time listener eagerly anticipating such surprises with each track should probably be the goal of any artist, and that is at the very least what the Barr Brothers accomplished on this stunning debut.
Jason Schneider

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