Matthew Barber Songs For The Haunted Hillbilly

Matthew Barber Songs For The Haunted Hillbilly
This album can be considered something of a career detour for talented Toronto, ON troubadour Barber. It features songs he wrote specifically for the play Haunted Hillbilly, one that has had successful runs in Montreal and Toronto over the past four years. Given the play's theme and setting, these songs have a rootsier (and raunchier) honkytonk feel than those on Barber's previous solo albums. It's fair to assume Barber wouldn't have written a song about venereal disease ("The Clap") for one of his regular records. He's accompanied by ace multi-instrumentalists Joe Grass (his pedal steel is often prominent) and Julian Stone, while Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna and Julie Fader add backing vocals. One of the play's actors, Alexis Taylor, adds sweet backups on the lovely ballad "Together in Time." The catchy "Got That Lonesome Feeling On My Mind" appeared on earlier Barber disc True Believer and remains a highlight. The tunes tend to be sparse vignettes, rather than fully formed, fleshed out compositions, with the 12 tracks totaling just 24 minutes in length. They do, however, confirm Barber's prowess as a songsmith and a singer with a very easy on the ear style. (A Priori)