Album review: The Barr Brothers - Sleeping Operator

PUBLISHED: 11:30 04 November 2014

The Barr Brothers - Sleeping Operator

The Barr Brothers - Sleeping Operator


Wide-ranging atmospherics in an adventurous, ageless, melting pot of guitar-led goodness.

It’s easy to miss just how much work has gone into this Montreal outfit’s self-produced sophomore record.

It bristles with arrangements and combinations that sound so natural it belies their complexity.

A plethora of instruments decorate, sometimes drive, the songs which flit through roots, folk, Americana, blues, AOR and psychedelia.

An intimate campfire communion atmosphere prevails, aside from brief ventures into the cinematic and quietly wondrous, and neighbourhood guests including The Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and Patrick Watson’s band add to the talents of brothers Brad and Andrew, classical harpist Sarah Pagé and pianist/bassist Andrés Vial.

Pagé sprinkles the songs with the harp’s magical dust or weaves clipped motifs (Valhallas), while hammered dulcimer and pedal steel guitar help create an ageless sound, rooted in the traditional but open and adventurous.

So there’s wayward blues-rock licks informing the galloping, rollicking Half Crazy and the characterful, exotic west African ngoni invigorating the dusty Little Lover.

Even The Darkness Has Arms layered vocals and nimble finger-picking is as warmly familiar as a fireside hug, while the cascading motif, brass parps and washes of harp strokes that power Come In The Water’s chorus make for a highlight.

The rumbling, rambling Bring Me Your Love outstays its welcome, opening a languorous final third that forgoes some of the melting-pot sparkle in pursuit of intimacy, but Sleeping Operator is still a worthy listen.

Rating: 3/5

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