Jill Barber
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Jill Barber

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter




"Jill Barber's latest an ode to fuzzy feelings"

Sipping a Singapore sling in Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton, singer Jill Barber doesn’t need to try hard to differentiate herself from 99% of her Canadian peers.

“In this bare-bones world, where people can make a record at home using synthesizers, I might be the fool in the bunch because I love making records with real players, real instruments, real sections and full, ambitious arrangements,” says Barber, a 31-year-old throwback artist from Port Credit, Ont., who is releasing her fourth album, Mischievous Moon, on Tuesday. “It’s hilarious, while everyone’s trying to sound so modern to achieve their success, I’m emulating dead people, but, you know, hopefully they’re not turning over in the grave.”

Barber comes by her Edith Piaf- and Ella Fitzgerald-honed vocals honestly. In 2005, she released Oh Heart, which she recorded in Halifax after graduating from Western University with a degree in philosophy, and began crafting a sonic landscape that matched her starry world view.

“When I make music, I want to create the romance that I feel when I put on a record,” says Barber, who released Chances, which got her long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize in 2008.

“Music makes me feel romantic, whimsical and dreamy. It elevates regular life into something like starring in your own film, and I guess what I’m trying to do is record your soundtrack.”

The plot line on her new album, which, like Chances, was produced by Les Cooper, would have to be considered a sexy adult thriller, something with exotic locales, glamour and intrigue. Written and recorded while Barber was being swept off her feet by writer and radio personality Grant Lawrence, the album’s 11 tracks devote a number of bars to the fuzzy feelings of love.

“Probably the simplest song is A Wish Under My Pillow, a song that I wrote the little hook for five or six years ago,” says Barber on what begins with an almost Hawaiian-sounding acoustic guitar lick, which underlines a pining to wake up one morning and not feel so alone. “I premiered that song on the night of our wedding and, of course, my wish had come true.”

Recorded with a 12-piece string section and featuring her first track in French, Mischievous Moon is loaded with some of Barber’s most self-assured singing to date. However, the artist — who last year published the children’s book Baby’s Lullaby — considers her voice merely a tool for writing songs.

“I don’t even really feel like that much of a singer,” she says, adding that she prefers being on tour to recording, and that an album isn’t really finished until she plays it to her fans.

“I’ve seen Canadian Idol and I think I wouldn’t make it past the first round by their standards. I’ve been told my voice is unique as opposed to traditionally good.”

Her drink is just about finished when Barber makes that last quip, and perhaps it’s because of her surroundings that it seems unlikely a criticism of her voice might actually sting.

“I feel vulnerable with this record, but I also feel like I have enough confidence to put myself out on a limb,” she says. “I was pushing myself, in terms of production and scope, but also with drama. I feel like maybe that’s an un-Canadian thing.” - National Post

"Jill Barber gets personal with the past"

3.5 / 4
People are in love these days with mid-century modern décor and furniture, so why not the musical aesthetic? With echoes of everything from Burt Bacharach to Blossom Dearie and Patsy Cline, Canadian singer-songwriter Jill Barber has what must be the most beautifully orchestrated pop record in years. Her boopsie-girl voice is a love-it-or-leave it proposition for most listeners but she’s a stylistic chameleon — a smoky ’60s lounge crooner one moment (in “If It Weren’t for Loving You”) and a ’40s country-folk songstress the next (“A Wish Under My Pillow”). The songs are all the more endearing with the up-close-and-personal sound from producer Les Cooper. - Toronto Star

"Barber fearless, sophisticated"

Jill Barber knows she's going against the current musical grain with her distinctive contralto voice, cool retro looks, romantic love songs and big-band sound.

But the 31-year-old Port Credit, Ont., native -- who released her fourth album, Mischievous Moon, on Tuesday -- is nothing if not fearless.

She's lived on both Canadian coasts -- Halifax and now Vancouver, the latter home to new husband Grant Lawrence, a CBC Radio 3 host and lead singer of The Smugglers (they met at NXNE in Toronto almost four years ago through Jian Ghomeshi) -- and just spent January in a small town in the south of France in a French immersion program, which should please her growing Quebec fanbase.

"They get me," she says of Quebecers. "They're a pretty romantic people and my music is pretty romantic."

So what makes Barber, who made the move from acoustic folk to a bigger, more sophisticated sound on her 2008 album Chances, think she's heading in the right direction when Justin Bieber and Drake are currently the biggest things in Canadian music?

"I think whatever genre this music is -- it's not the popular one," said Barber, relaxing at a Toronto hotel bar earlier this week before Wednesday's launch of her Canadian tour which includes an opening spot for Michael Kaeshammer at Massey Hall on April 30.

"I don't feel like a lot of people are recording with whole orchestras 'cause they're not as foolish as I am. It's a double-edged sword. I feel like it's slightly unclassifiable. It doesn't fit really nicely into any one genre but I like to think I've already carved out a space for myself in the world of music and now I'm just kind of decorating it or something. I feel like I have a signature sound now and that feels really good. I love the timelessness of a lot of old records and I myself aspire to that weird, intangible quality that makes a song sound timeless and I'm naturally pulled towards the songs that have stood the test of time as opposed to the next cutting-edge pop tune of the moment. I'm not really interested. Even though that music is great -- that's not how I identify."

As with Chances, the material for Mischievous Moon was born out of Barber's three-week residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the Canadian Rockies. Her last three albums have all been produced by Les Cooper.

Barber, who will tour with a five-piece band but hopes to one day to hit the road with an orchestra, said she returned to Banff after experiencing some writer's block.

"Literally morning, noon and night, I'd write all day long and when I start banging my head against the wall I'd go hike up a mountain," she said.

She also decided to release Mischievous Moon's first single, Tell Me, in both its English and French versions (Dis-Moi) simultaneously, as a way of addressing her growing Quebec audience. Still to come is a translation of a second song, If It Weren't For Loving You. (Previously with the Chances' song, All My Dreams, she released the translated French song, Tous Mes Reves, on iTunes.)

"It was, first of all, really fun to sing in French," said Barber, who was in French immersion until Grade 6 as a child.

"I really love the language. It's totally romantic. It's very sensual as a language. I love the shapes of words and I love being able to sing in French. I'm just kind of increasing my repertoire to include a second language. What I'm hoping for is that things continue to go well in Quebec and that might be an entryway into France." - QMI Agency

"Jill Barber Mischievous Moon"

From the initial soaring strings on singer-songwriter Jill Barber's fourth album, Mischievous Moon, glamour beckons. Sad bus rides and boring living rooms are transformed instantly to some sort of old Hollywood sound stage where virtually every moment is steeped in elegance and beauty, with the occasional hint of, yes, mischief. Moon's best songs stay true to this formula, whereas the album's two weakest tracks ("Took Me By Surprise" and "Any Fool Can Fall In Love") take a misstep into lively bossa nova territory. But "Daydreamin'" is a drowsy, sweet concoction, the missing song from a choreographed dance between Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. "A Wish Under My Pillow" is an adorable throwback, featuring a brief, delightful tap dance sequence. On "Steal Away," Barber turns up the heat and the heart, a seductress looking to her flame for a way out. Barber's voice ? Moon's most poignant instrument ? alternates smoothly between little girl purr and full strength soar, getting its best showcases during the exquisite "Dis-Moi" and tortured lament "If It Weren't for Loving You." With Moon, Barber's transition from folkie to femme fatale is complete. - Exclaim!

"Jill Barber Mischievous Moon Press Highlights"

Press highlights for Jill Barber's latest album release - Various Canadian Press

"Jill Barber Live in Manchester"

“Has anyone ever moved to the other side of the country for love?” asks rosy-faced, sun-drenched Jill Barber as the country lass trots into the amber lights, all cowboy boots and womanliness. There are sage nods, some accompanied by smiles, some of wistful nostalgia. With comforting tales of love and leisure, the nuances of heartbreak but mainly the soothing balm of being besotted and adrift grow in her acoustic twangs and wholesome, fireside beauty. - Manchestermusic.co.uk

"Period Perfect Crooner"

Period perfect crooner


October 14, 2008


Jill Barber

Outside Music


The Globe and Mail

First of all, special thanks should go out to Bob Hope, for allowing the swell singer Jill Barber - she's some classy dame! - to take some time off from the big USO tour to record this album. In a related note, we sure hope our boys in Korea come back safe and sound.

Jill Barber, formerly of Halifax but now based in Vancouver, is 28 years old. With Chances, the self-described "smoky folkie" steps stylishly back into one of the golden ages of music, detouring not so radically from her willowy brand of jazzy-roots music for orchestral, melodramatic song, or, as Dick Clark might put it, "old people's music." Bathed warmly in a champagne glow of lush strings and suave horns (arranged by producer-guitarist Les Cooper and recorded at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto), Barber's voice is the sophisticated attraction to a collection of 10 original love songs, many of which were composed during a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Whether troubled, vulnerable or in higher romantic spirits, the chanteuse with the candied, vibrating coo stays clear of showy gestures; she's as at ease on the sweetly dancing title track as she is on the moody blues of Wishing Well.

Barber premiered some of the material not at the Eisenhower inaugural ball, but with Symphony Nova Scotia in Halifax earlier this year. But don't think of this as a stodgy affair. Leaving You is lively country-jazz and Oh My My starts off as vocal folk music (think of Feist's Sea Lion Woman) before careening into something out of one of those crazed precensor Betty Boop-Cab Calloway cartoons. A flute solo is jived and jazzed, and the Sojourners spook with "oh my my" backing vocals as a love-sick Barber pleads with a doctor who isn't all that reassuring. The adorable misogyny of Be My Man - "If I promise to be good and do everything that I should" - is as period-perfect as the buttery clarinet intro. There's a touch of Patsy Cline to Old Flame, one of three numbers co-written by Ron Sexsmith, who also adds harmony vocals. I like the creamy vibraphone work of Michael Davidson here.

Barber isn't the only young Canadian songstress looking decades back these days (the early soul sound of Never Quit Loving You would not be lost on Roxanne Potvin), but no one has jumped into the old Crosley radio with more commitment. What kind of audience will warm to these vintage sounds is hard to say. But then, life, as with romance, is all about taking chances, as Barber clearly knows so well.

Jill Barber tours Canada, beginning in Sackville, N.B. Oct. 26.
- Globe & Mail

"Jill Barber Takes Chances"

Jill Barber
Jill Barber Takes Chances

09/11/08 2:54pm

by Kate Harper (CHARTattack)
Halifax songstress Jill Barber's third album, Chances, will be released through Outside Music on Oct. 14.

Barber wrote the album with singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith and producer/arranger/guitarist Les Cooper (Andy Stochansky). Chances was primarily recorded at Blue Rodeo's Woodshed Studios in Toronto, while separate string and horn arrangements were recorded at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto's CBC headquarters. Sexsmith, The Good Lovelies and The Sojourners contributed vocals to the album.

"This was the first time that I had opened myself up to the idea of a musical collaboration," Barber says. "It was an amazing experience and forced me to stretch my own songwriting muscles."

Barber was born in the Port Credit neighbourhood of Mississauga, Ont. and moved to Nova Scotia as a child. She won two East Coast Music Awards for 2006's For All Time and is also a two-time Juno Award nominee.

You can see Barber here:

Oct. 4 Vancouver, BC @ The Chan Centre For The Performing Arts w/Ron Sexsmith
Oct. 24 Sackville, NB @ Sackville United Church w/Meaghan Smith, Bruce Guthro and Catherine MacLellan
Oct. 26 Fredericton, NB @ Fredericton Playhouse
Oct. 29 Summerside, PEI @ Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre
Oct. 30 Halifax, NS @ Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (Dalhousie University)
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Antigonish, NS @ Bauer Theatre (St. Francis Xavier University)
Nov. 2 Chester, NS @ Chester Playhouse
Nov. 4 Margaretsville, NS @ Evergreen Theatre
Nov. 5 Liverpool, NS @ The Astor Theatre
Nov. 6 Shelburne, NS @ Osprey Arts Centre
Nov. 7 Wolfville, NS @ Festival Theatre
Nov. 8 Port Hawkesbury, NS @ Strait Area Education And Recreation Centre
Nov. 9 Glace Bay, NS @ Savoy Theatre
Nov. 14 Calgary, AB @ Knox United Church
Nov. 15 St. Albert, AB @ The Arden Theatre
Nov. 18 Regina, SK @ The Exchange
Nov. 19 Winnipeg, MB @ The Park Theatre & Movie Cafe
- Chart Magazine

"Jill Barber Chances Review"

Published October 09, 2008.
Jill Barber
(Outside Music)
Jill Barber could have lived in another era. Chances is chock full of sweeping orchestral arrangements (provided by a 10-piece string section) and Barber's trademark romanticism. Producer and long-time cohort Les Cooper has pulled out all the stops. From The Good Lovelies' ethereal harmonies on opening track "Chances," to a nostalgic waltz/duet with Ron Sexsmith dubbed "Old Flame," Barber has mastered the perfect love song, but it's an ode to her own incurable lovesickness on "Oh My My" that shows immeasurable artistic growth. The old-time roots track is akin to the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

"Be My Man" is an earnest testament to love. The sultry clarinet opening on "Wishing Well" sets a darker tone, as Barber dips into the depths of her soul and questions the breadth of inspiration and loss with a killer dramatic string arrangement held by a constant tapping. She quickly falls back into her storybook-love narrative with "Never Quit Loving You," featuring Vancouver gospel trio The Sourjourners. "Leaving You" is reminiscent of her earlier smoky folk material---2006's For All Timeand 2004's Oh, Heart. Recorded at Blue Rodeo's Woodshed Studios in Toronto, Chances closes with "One More Time," a piano-driven ballad that plays the heartstrings of all lovelorn lovers.
Shannon Webb-Campbell
categories: Coast pick,Local artist,Canadian artist

- The Coast

"The Coast Fall Preview"

Jill Barber

October 30, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (6101 University), 8pm, $32

Jill Barber knows a thing or two about taking risks, both in melody and in heart. In fact it was such romantic whimsy that originally led her to Halifax. The novice Vancouverite returns to our historic port town with her most timeless collection to date, Chances (Outside Music). As a city we've been fortunate enough to witness Barber's musical maturation, from folk songs and cowboy boots to her stunning performance with the Symphony Nova Scotia last spring, the sultry cabaret-chanteuse has truly come into her own.

Chancesis an album of sanguine disposition, a love story from the bygone era. This 10 fully orchestrated song collection was co-written with producer Les Cooper and Ron Sexsmith. From the sweeping arrangement of "Let Me Take It Off Your Mind," to the seductively rhythmic soul of roots-inspired track, "Oh My My," not to mention an ode to a lost love in "Old Flame," Barber wholeheartedly carries on from where the golden age of music left off---she's a modern-day Billie Holiday with the soul of Edith Piaf (minus the French).

Don't be surprised when this album is hailed as a Canadian classic.
- The Coast


For All Time, 2006
Oh Heart, 2005
Chances, 2008
Mischievous Moon, 2011
- Mischievous Moon debuted at #30 on the Billboard 200
- Was #1 Selling Jazz Album in Canada for 13 weeks in a row
- #1 Selling Jazz Album on iTunes Canada for 2011
- The video for Tell Me/Dis Moi charted on both French and
English Music Video Channels



Jill Barber has always had stars in her eyes. It’s a natural side effect of gazing up at the moon and composing songs bathed in its silvery glow.

From her modest beginnings as a shy acoustic folkie on the local coffeehouse stage, Barber’s recent career has been reaching starry heights. With the release of her fourth album Mischievous Moon, a stunning concoction that features Barber’s unmistakable contralto backed by sweeping strings and dramatic orchestration, Jill Barber’s evolution to confident chanteuse is complete.

Inspired by the great ladies of song like Ella Fitzgerald and Edith Piaf, Barber reached for a place on the international stage with the release of her last record, 2008’s Chances. It was a turning point in her career, says Barber. “I think it’s important to experiment and try on a number of musical hats to a point, but eventually you have figure out what your own contribution is going to be. When I finished writing and recording Chances, something clicked.”

As a performer, Jill Barber charms her audiences while weaving a romantic spell. Indeed, romance plays a huge role in both her life and her art. “Chances represented the courtship phase of my career”, she muses. “With Mischievous Moon, we’re getting intimate. The romance is alive and well, but there’s something deeper to be uncovered.”

Barber’s own romantic journey reached a peak last year with her marriage to national radio broadcaster and author Grant Lawrence, for whom she moved right across the country from Halifax, NS to her new home of Vancouver, BC. Born and raised in Port Credit, ON, Barber is now claimed by Ontario, and both coasts, as one of their own. “I’d like to say it’s the ocean that has drawn me each time, but really it’s always been the love of a man. I follow my heart. Consequently I’ve moved around so much that I’ve begun vying for the title of “Canada’s Sweetheart,” jokes Barber.

The writing process for Mischievous Moon was enriched by an artist residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the Canadian Rockies. Barber worked late into the night accompanied by longtime producer and collaborator Les Cooper, a grand piano and a bottle of good Scotch. Violinist and composer Drew Jurecka stepped out of his usual role as a member of Jill’s band to help with the writing and arrangements that appear on the record.

“I puzzled over what kind of album I wanted to make, because as an artist, once you find your voice the trick is not to lose it. That would be careless. But at the same time you can’t just keep saying the same thing over and over again. In the end I decided to trust my instincts, and let the muse take control."

Barber has also begun to cross language barriers. Inspired by her growing French-speaking fan base and her admiration for la vie en rose, Barber now sings and records in both English and French. At the end of the lengthy recording process for Mischievous Moon, Barber enrolled in a French immersion school in the south of France. The result, she hopes, will be the ability to connect with French-speaking audiences everywhere, and as evidence of her commitment, the first single from Mischievous Moon will be released in both French and English (“Dis-Moi/Tell Me”).

Barber continues to explore themes of love and romance on Mischievous Moon, which not only perfectly captures the whimsical moods of moonlight, but also explores what’s hidden in the shadows it casts. “The moon has such a venerable presence in the night sky, keeping one eye on us. I don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes it feels like we have our own private jokes, the moon and I. From time to time I can’t help but look up and give it a little wink.”