Award-winning Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker is back with her first album since 2013’s seminal release Dear River and this time she’s back with a different sound. Things aren’t drastically different from before, but Sweet Kind Of Blue shows Barker experimenting a little more, with more of a blues and soul vibe present than before.
By Jane Howkins
Because of this, fans expecting something more folky like Barker’s early work may be disappointed. However, there is plenty here to sink your teeth into, and it’s not so different to the rest of her back catalogue that it should drastically affect your listening experience. There’s also a country vibe that we’ve picked up on, which is something Barker has been slowly including more of over the past few years. The album was recorded at the infamous Phillips Recording Studio where Elvis Presley recorded in Memphis, so it’s clear even before listening that this is something that has been on Barker’s mind for a while, and it’s incorporated rather nicely with the other styles present on Sweet Kind Of Blue.
For the most part, it all works rather well, although there are times when Barker’s vocals seem a little too delicate for the rough, bluesy sound she’s going for. It takes some getting used to at first (and perhaps that’s because her music has changed quite rapidly in style), but fans should become comfortable with this after a few spins. It’s not all raunchy rock ‘n’ roll songs like the title track either, as ballad Sister Goodbye proves, being a beautiful gospel tinged tribute to Sister Rosetta Thorpe.
On Sweet Kind Of Blue, Emily Barker has taken a step into the unknown, both literally (with the visit to Memphis), and figuratively in terms of her changing sound. There’s no need to fear though, as it all fits rather seamlessly together, and it’s great to see an artist experimenting more with their sound.
Sweet Kind of Blue by Emily Barker is available now.