The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers

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The Barr Brothers Review

by William Ruhlmann

Born in Rhode Island and based in Montreal, Brad (vocals, guitar) and Andrew (drums) Barr team with Sarah Page (hammer dulcimer, harp) and Andres Vial (pump organ, vibraphone) as the Barr Brothers on this self-titled folk-pop effort, which is both a little rustic in its under-produced sound and also has the quality of chamber music. Brad Barr sings in a murmur with his low tenor, sometimes accompanied by high harmony vocals, and the melancholy tone of the lyrics sometimes makes the whole sound like Simon & Garfunkel performing the Leonard Cohen songbook. The combination of instruments, usually led by Brad Barr's fingerpicked acoustic guitar, also suggests an "unplugged" version of the Band on occasion. But the group manages to rock out on "Give the Devil Back His Heart," which boasts a lengthy electric guitar solo and recalls Traffic. And the two Barrs make like the White Stripes on the guitar/bass arrangement of Blind Willie Johnson's "Lord, I Just Can't Keep from Crying." The Barr Brothers are a different kind of folk group, bringing in unusual instrumentation and performing in a manner that draws the listener into a special musical world.

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