Barbara K.

Ready

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This is an album with a lot of muscle and a lot of heart. It's been 15 years since Timbuk 3's unlikely dance with the Top 40, and high time that Barbara K. stepped out with this, her solo debut. She's assembled a fine group of musicians, including bassist/vocalist Mark Andes (Spirit, Canned Heat, Firefall), percussionist Wally Ingram (Timbuk 3, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne), and guitarist/dobro player Robert Gjersoe (Jimmie Dale Gilmore). The opener, "Defenseless" (in which she asserts "I'm gonna hold you there in my firm love/Until all of your defenses fall on the floor"), serves as a sort of call to arms for this album, which is saturated with that kind of conviction, both lyrically and musically. It seems Barbara's been doing a lot of woodshedding in recent years, and she's stepped out with a batch of strong songs bolstered by first-class musicianship. Her strength lies not so much in melody or structure, but in a bold lyrical honesty rising deep from the groove of a song -- whether that groove is Andes' thrumming, creative basslines or Barbara's percussive guitar. One particular highlight is the haunting "My Name Is Truth," in which her almost Native American-sounding incantations are backed by an ominous rock beat and stormy guitars.