Matthew Barber Sweet Nothing

As one of the few Canadian singer-songwriters to be signed by a major label here in recent years, Matthew Barber is sure to find that this full-length debut receives close scrutiny. It stands up to the test, further demonstrating the potential shown on last year’s The Story of Your Life EP. The album kicks off with a virile and catchy rocker, "Soft One,” a tune that can surely grab commercial airplay. Fellow Matt(hew)s Mays and Sweet could be reference points for this and "The Plea,” but other songs have a much more delicate and rootsy flavour. The sonic diversity here could be a little confusing (a couple of cuts even have a horn section), but the strength of Barber’s songwriting and his pleasingly melodic voice overcomes that. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has a top-notch producer on hand in Marty Kinack (Sarah Harmer, Broken Social Scene), and such accompanists as Pete Elkas, James Shaw (Metric) and Evan Cranley (Stars). Singing sister Jill Barber adds backing vocals to two tunes as well, including album highlight "Easy To Fall.” On this charming song, Barber self-deprecatingly writes: "Bet you’ve heard another ditty with these chords/But I don’t give a shit now, everything’s been done/All that matters is you do it and have a little fun.” Barber does it well on Sweet Nothing. (Warner)