CD Review of Ghost Notes by Matthew Barber
Matthew Barber: Ghost Notes
Recommended if you like
David Mead, Ray LaMontagne,
Eric Hutchinson
Label
Outside Music
Matthew Barber: Ghost Notes

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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F
or those of us who live outside of Canada, we sometimes need to be nudged by a publicist or see a great artist like Matthew Barber when he’s touring the states with another artist we’ve heard of and are following. But sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder why guys like Barber remain such a secret for years. His latest, and second solo effort (he was in a band called The Union Dues before going solo), Ghost Notes, is what you might call real music—heartfelt, with beautiful melodies, and sung with the precision of a skate hitting the ice. (Okay, that’ll be the first and last Canadian reference). Ghost Notes shows many things about Barber, but mostly that he can hit you with that songwriter-to-listener gut punch the way that Ray LaMontagne does, and he can do it with spot-on tenor ala David Mead.

Instead of kicking off with something bouncy, Barber does so with a stunning acoustic ballad, "Easily Bruised," which has the kind of memorable hook that makes you literally feel like you’re in your own movie, and that this is the soundtrack. Barber still keeps the tempo medium but the hook as equally catchy as it is lo-fi on "And You Give." "Where The River Bends" and "Modern Woman" are equally riveting, stop-you-in-your tracks type songs, and then Barber kicks things up a notch with the jangly "One Little Piece of My Love" and painfully realistic "Sleep Please Come to Me." Finally, "Our Voices" sounds like a church anthem—simple yet powerful.

While albums with such compelling songs might sound like they’re effortless to write and produce, those of you who write and record music know better. To do it the way Matthew Barber did on Ghost Notes, which by the way was self-produced, is a gift. And we’re just lucky that his music is starting to leak over the border. Now go seek this one out, and then go tell your friends that you heard it first.

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