Published May 01, 2018Had a rough day at work? At least Matthew Barber is here to let you know you aren't alone. That'll be apparent the instant you listen to "A Living," the aptly titled standout track on the Mississauga, ON-born singer-songwriter's new album, Phase of the Moon. The tune is replete with lyrics that are both universally broad and surgically specific.
Barber earnestly bellows those lines about how (to paraphrase) so many of us are pining for the clock to go 'round as we work to make a living. His vocal delivery, along with the assembly-line style grind of the song's percussion and rhythm, will all make you want to hum "A Living" to liven up your next menial task.
And while, in both theme and execution, "A Living" is a contender for one of the year's very best alt-folk songs, Phase of the Moon features other gems like the downtempo, violin-laced tear-jerker "The Painter" and the giddy, instantly sing-able, "oooh oooh" riff "Maybe It's Love."
Then there's the resolutely upbeat "Grateful for the Rain," which features piano plinks that mimic drops splashing down from on high, while the LP's title track boasts rich keyboard work that's melodious enough for pop radio. The prominence of that instrument makes sense, given the fact that Barber conceived of much of these songs in a tiny studio apartment in Paris that came with an upright piano.
The intimate, respite-like ambiance he enjoyed on that jaunt to Europe permeates through much of Phase of the Moon, contrasting nicely with the lyrics about relatable romantic woes and everyman daily struggles. It'll make you feel like Barber is inviting you to share your problems, before offering a cozy far-off escape, amounting to one of the most affecting LP's in the 41-year-old songsmith's already impressive catalogue. (Outside)