Emily Barker is set to release her new album ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ on May 19 hrough Everyone Sang/Kartel. The album marks a new sound as she returns to the soul and blues influences that first inspired her to become a singer/songwriter. ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ was recorded in June 2016, at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis that holds the legacy of recording artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan and Booker T. The stunning set is her first full studio album since Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo’s ‘Dear River’ in 2013.
The stars were perfectly aligned for these Memphis ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ sessions. Barker brought her songs, her guitar, that cathedral of a voice and her irrepressible freewheeling spirit. Producer Matt Ross-Spang was riding high following his recent Grammy success with Jason Isbell and Barker was backed by top Memphis musicians Rick Steff, Dave Smith, Dave Cousar and Steve Potts who have performed on recordings for John Mayall, Cat Power and Norah Jones, amongst many others. Barker marveled at the synergy they created: “in this short amount of time, (4 days of tracking) myself and the musicians become very close. It’s a magical thing to experience; the rapid transition from strangers to life-long friends, it doesn’t always happen”. The result is an intoxicating blend of songs Barker penned about loves lost, heartrending humanity, the rush of the road trip and the sheer glory of a new love. The making of the album was a love story in itself – between Barker and Memphis.
The album includes songs like ‘Sunrise’, the second single, which Barker wrote on a road-trip while touring Sweden, influenced by natural surroundings of lakes, beaches and the long-lasting sunlight of peak Swedish summer. “It’s a song about escaping”, says Barker, “and it seemed very fitting to record it in the USA with the national theme of the road-trip being such a feature in literature, music and popular culture throughout American history”.
It follows the contrasting mood of first single ‘Sister Goodbye’, a soulful tribute to one of Barker’s guitar-slinging heroes, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Barker performed the song in her honour, hoping she might be listening, and describes Rosetta as “trailblazer, a barrier-breaker, an innovator and an inspiration”. In title track ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’, Barker brings the funk with a raw fervour, backed by a tight rhythm section that delivers a southern swing, as well as classic interjecting harmonies.
Barker has penned and performed theme songs for BAFTA and Ivor Novello winning television dramas Wallander (starring Kenneth Branagh) and The Shadow Line and for the movie The Keeping Room, as well as an entire musical score for the poignant and well-received 2015 road movie, Hector, starring Peter Mullan. She has released several critically acclaimed albums both solo, as Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo and including side projects Vena Portae and Applewood Road. She has played many sold-out UK dates and performed with Frank Turner at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
*Supporting Mary Chapin Carpenter
October 16 – Kent State University at Tuscarawas – New Philadelphia, OH
October 18 – Capitol Theatre – Madison, WI
October 19 – Pabst Theatre – Milwaukee, WI
October 20 – Kalamazoo State Theatre – Kalamazoo, MI
October 21 – North Shore Center – Skokie, IL
October 23 – The Ark – Ann Arbor, MI
October 24 – Lackawanna College Theatre – Scranton, PA
October 27 – Infinity Hall – Hartford, CT
October 28 & 29 – Shalin Lui Performance Centre – Rockport, MA
“Sweet Kind of Blue becomes a vehicle for Emily Barker to give something back to the music that acted as a foundation and catalyst for her own career.” – Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root
“There were no rehearsals. Everything was nailed in two or three takes. It’s all live vocals on Emily’s part. The only thing we punched would be a harmony or strings or something. The musicians have all played together many times, but it’s been a while, so it was like a really cool family reunion. And they just killed it. I still get goosebumps listening to “Sister Goodbye.” I think that was the first one we tracked, and it set the tone for the whole record.” – Matt Ross-Spang, from Sense of Place: England’s Emily Barker finds a musical home at Phillips Recording – The Memphis Flyer
“It’s hard not to think of Dusty Springfield (hey, another non-US Americana artist) as Barker wraps her voice around lush ballads and fervent grooves.” – Mayer Danzig, Twangville
“Yes, this is a Memphis album. And it’s obvious that Emily Barker knows, feels, loves and understands Memphis; what the power of recording in that city can do – for the song and the emotions that go into those songs. And when you listen all the way through these tracks, you immediately know why it is “a sweet kind of blue” – because it is. Very sweet.” – Rob Ross, PopDose
“While some artists may have a hard time keeping a crowd’s interest without a backing band, Barker sure isn’t one of them. Her voice is the true instrument of interest in her music … With the crowd’s full attention, Barker really showcased the raw, jazzy vibrato sound of her vocals.” – Hannah Oreskovich, Bolder Beat
“It is apparent that she’s not some cultural interloper, but a true believer who has it in her blood. A welcome addition to the neo-soul pantheon.” – Amos Perrine, No Depression
“With the slick production of Matt Ross-Spang and a backing band of Memphis musical stalwarts, Barker has provided us an album of catchy, soulful jams and intimate solemnity… a standout in her catalog.” – Jordan Mainzer, Since I Left You
Emily Barker Joins Mary Chapin Carpenter for US Dates This Summer – The Daily Country
Emily Barker: From Australia to London to ‘The Cape Canaveral of Studios’ – New Memphis Beat
Exclusive premiere: “Sweet Kind of Blue” music video – The Alternate Root
U.S. Publicity: Elizabeth Cawein
Management: Howard Mills
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