The First single release from Emily Barker’s forthcoming Dear River album is the wonderful title track. Like the best of Emily’s songs it has an immediate familiarity, yet is uniquely hers. It’s an open letter to the Blackwoods River in Western Australia on the eve of Emily’s own journey into the wider world.
There’s a surge of optimism through this tune, which, for those old enough to remember perhaps has echoes of the sixties in the sweeping melody. Emily’s albums themes of home, place, the significance of roots and belonging and the effect of moving away are picked up and she describes this as, “A song about journey, it is a longing for the unfamiliar, where the journey itself becomes a home.” The sense of excitement and opportunity is found as the tune opens out and Emily sings “Show me bight city lights and streets I’ve never seen, make a home for me on the path in-between.”
But any journey comes with a complexity of contrasting emotions and she explains “The more I travel and experience, the more the river calls me back and I start longing for what I knew: those first landscapes, those first loves’’ Again the lyrics remind us that “In every fading town goes the memory of a self I’ve left behind.”
With the Red Clay Halo are right on song with the familiar violin and accordion mix form Anna and Gill, but with Jo providing the electric bass line that pushes the song along in tune with Emily’s guitar. The sound is absolutely superb and the benefit of Calum Malcolm’s production skills and studio know how is obvious. Dear river promises to be the best Emily Barker album yet.
Review by: Simon Holland