Matthew Barber True Believer

Matthew Barber True Believer
With this fourth full-length disc, Barber confirms his status on the A-list of Canadian roots-oriented singer-songwriters. His supple and sweetly melodic voice is in top shape, his writing is versatile and accomplished, and the choice of underrated peer Howie Beck (Hayden, Jason Collett) as producer was a wise one. The dynamic duo played most of the instruments, but guest musicians (including a horn section) are used effectively. There's a wide sonic sweep to the album, and the sudden switch from musically adventurous and introspective ballad "Revolution Of The Sun" to retro honky-tonk tune "Got That Lonesome Feeling On My Mind" is initially a bit disconcerting. Breezy and accessible songs like "Comeback Baby" and "I Think You're Gonna Feel My Love" will (hopefully) grab radio play, but it is the ballads like "While Away" (a gorgeous song featuring harmony vocals from sister Jill) and the haunting "Suddenly" that dig deepest. Barber's best yet.

Had You Crossed Paths With Howie Beck Before?
I'd played a couple of shows with him five years ago. We were acquaintances, but we got to know each other really well making the album. It worked out great. There is always a controlling part of me that has a vision for the songs and I'm always reluctant to hand that over to a producer. If you just keep doing things yourself though, you never really know what is possible if you worked with someone else. Howie seemed like a good guy, so I sent him a bunch of my demos and he seemed really gung-ho about it.

The songs on this record cover a lot of territory. You never restrict yourself that way?
No, I don't. I've always liked to take the listener on something of a journey through different sounds. I figure it is still me writing and singing all the songs, so inevitably there is that thread going through it. It's not radical, like having a song with hip-hop beats. It does push the edges a bit. It may be frustrating for journalists wanting to put it in a category, but you can't really think about that sort of thing. You just have to go with what inspires you and what you want to do. That is what I've always done. From my demos, Howie made a list of his top ten and I made a list of mine, and whichever ones intersected we would do, then fight for whatever other ones we wanted. There were some I thought would be outliers that wouldn't really fit on the album, but Howie was passionate about giving them a shot and I would go with it. (Outside)