The Barker Band return with their sixth album The Land We Hold Dear, the band took time out with their plans due to the sad loss in April 2012 of one of bands founder members Lenny Barker, the father of band members Jake (vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Sam (vocal, banjo, mandolin, guitar).
Lenny was a huge inspiration to the band and it was through his record collection and encouragement that the twin brothers diverse musical influences developed, listening to everything from the Carter Family to Black Sabbath, the featured track above is one of the last tracks he played on and the brothers felt it was the only right to dedicate the bands new album and pay tribute, in Jakes words;
“His loss has left a big hole in the band and we wanted to honour him with this album. We poured our heart and soul into it, and for good measure we also put a heavy dose of banjo in there … it is what he would have wanted,”
“We wrote ‘Don’t Fear The End’ in honour of our dad Lenny,” adds Sam. “We very much stuck by the ethos we have always had when recording a new album; of surrounding ourselves with good friends and family and even enlisting the help of our friends in other bands. Hackney based blues/folk band ‘The Ramshackle Union’ join us on the track ‘Didn’t Leave For Sea’ “
The band have being playing and recording since 2004, alongside founding members Jake and Sam are Laurie Sherman (guitar) with Nella Johnson (vocals), Tom Wright (bass), Ru Sheeve (drums) and Simon Cohen (fiddle).
The Land We Hold Dear was record entirely in analogue with most of the work being done at London’ Soup Studies, and there was a trip across the North Sea where the band added backing vocals to tracks The Fishing Song Part 2 and Leave My Bonny courtesy of the Storm Weather Shanty Choir a six piece Norwegian shanty band which fits perfectly alongside the great songwriting, powerful lead and sibling harmonies, blending genres creatively the result is a triumph and a fitting honour to fallen band member.
One of my favourite UK bands The Barker Band have kindly sent me a copy of their latest album Dig Me A Hole , the album is the bands fifth and given I’m a huge fan of the previous four albums, and I’m a glass half empty kind of guy – despite having already been able to listen to some tracks from the album on-line I was a little apprehensive before listening to the whole album fearing it may not reach the heights of the previous releases and would end in disappointment, my fears I’m pleased to report were totally unfounded as it’s a wonderful album and goes straight into the top drawer of 2012 for me.
The band have developed their sound and move further away from their earlier bluegrass leanings now drawing on a greater range of styles to produce their strongest set of tracks to date, several members of the band contribute to the albums eleven tracks and the strength in depth is evident throughout to the listener, twin brothers Sam (banjo, mandolin, guitar) and Jake (banjo, mandolin, sax) Barker contribute to seven tracks, life long friend and band co-founder Laurie Sherman (lead guitar) contributes to four and bass player Tom Wright adds another – one of my favourites from the album El Diablo, this is the second Barker Band album on which Nella Johnson takes the majority share of singing duties and again she steals the boys thunder with some great performances, the primary band line-up is completed by Dave Fretton (keys) and Rupert Shreeve (drums) and they are joined in the studio by a supporting cast of friends and musicians adding fiddle, horns, harmonica and backing vocals to fully flesh out the sound.
British Americana at it’s best – highly recommend.
I spent an hour or two last night trawling through the WWW trying to catch up on what a few favourite bands I’d not heard any news on in a while and lo-and-behold I find out The Barker Band are getting around to releasing a new album that they’ve being working on for sometime now – not on a Guns N Roses / Gilliam Welch timescale I should add, but it’s must be two years ago when it was first mentioned – anyway the goods news is according to a recent Facebook post the new record is due out in November and in the interim there are a few tracks to sample and one to download from Bandcamp.
For those not familiar with the band, Dig Me A Hole will be the bands fifth release, twin brothers Sam (banjo, mandolin) and Jake (banjo, mandolin) Barker along with life long friend Laurie Sherman started the London bluegrass-country band before the line-up evolved and expanded to the current seven-piece line-up with members Nella Johnson (vocals), Lenny Barker (guitar, vocals), Tom Wright (bass, vocals) and Ru Shreeve (drums).
The bands first album was a limited self-titled self-released CD back on 2004, it’s now out of print – maybe if you’re lucky a copy will pop up on eBay? in common with the first album the next two Lonesome Waltz (2006) andThe Night Ain’t Over (2007) featured lead-vocals from the twins Sam and Jake before with the fourth album, Sorry for the Kissingthere was a swerve in the bands sound that was accompanied by Nella taking up the mantle of lead vocalist.
All four of the albums are golden and I’d heartily recommend them, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the new album (that’s a less than subtle hint if there are any PR types reading this.)
From Sorry for the Kissing
Live acoustic set for Steve Lamaq at Camden Crawl 09
Mindful my twang output has being tempered of late thought I’d remedy it with Volume III of More Twang. Twenty hand picked selections culled from the Beat Surrender archives, some familiar names and I hope some new ones that’ll have you wanting more.