Karen Barry
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Karen Barry


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"Karen Barry Goes Bare"

Artist In Residence
Arts, The Neighborhood Files
Karen Barry Goes 'Bare'
Local artist and stay-at-home mom forsakes laundry for the recording studio and releases her first album.
By Eugenie Diserio | Email the author | March 28, 2011

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"'Bare' is a look at life from the middle which has its own turbulence," said singer-songwriter Karen Barry of her debut album released on March 24.

"It's about a place and time in life in life when you're trying to hold on to the past, live in the present and not let worry overtake your dreams for the future."

Sentiments from an artist who said several of her favorite poets, W.S. Merwin, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton influence everything she writes and thinks about.

She names especially, Neil Young along with Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams as her musical inspiration along with the rock of Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth and old Nirvana. "There's a bit of that rebel teenager in all of us." she said.

Barry — not a typical suburban CT housewife and stay-at-home mom — has lived in New Canaan for the past fifteen years with her husband, Timothy Schwarz and their two teenage daughters, Abigail Schwarz and Audrey Schwarz.

She started playing guitar about seven years ago after seeing Neil Young perform. It was the first live concert she had attended in a while because of the demands of a career in advertising and raising kids.

After that concert, "my head exploded," Barry told Patch. "I started playing guitar the next week and took lessons at Merit Music."

Neil Young, Barry's musical idol, is noticeably channeled in her songwriting, music and vocals which she describes as "Americana, a confluence of folk, rhythm and blues, country and rock and roll."

'Bare' contains fourteen original songs, and was self-produced and self-funded with a major nod to her supportive husband.

"My husband and daughters are my biggest fans," Barry said.

'Bare' was recorded as a live studio album with a full band, that included Bill Shute, a master guitar player and Barry's former teacher, and guitarist Keith Haman, who Barry met when they performed together at a Neil Young tribute show in California.

"There's a snowed-in feeling in this record somewhere." she said of the two winter days they spent recording at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT.

She plans to perform live at venues in Connecticut and New York and hopes to break even with the sale of CDs and downloads.

Her daughters, who sang back-up on 'Bare,' thought she was crazy to produce a physical CD. "Everyone just downloads today, Mom!" they told her.

'Bare' is available on i-Tunes but Barry hopes some people still want the actual music to hold in their hand.

"I know I still like to touch it," she said. - New Canaan Patch

"Music Review: Karen Barry, Bare"

The first thing that comes to mind when listening to Karen Barry’s debut album, Bare, is that these songs were not written on a whim. They were culled from life experience. Hearing them for the first time is like discovering Barry's diary under her pillow, closing the door and settling down to read her most personal thoughts and reminisces. It’s impressive how much of herself Barry has managed to put in an album’s worth of material. No matter how long the songs took to write, they seem to represent the culmination of her life up until now.
“Did you take my daddy’s cufflinks/Mama gave you when he died?/First time that you wore those/All I could do was cry,” she sings in “Before the Dawn,” despairing over a lover who has gone. The imagery of her rummaging through his closet, checking for things he might have left behind, will break your heart.
“Bare Feet on the Kitchen Floor” is a song of being stuck in neutral and not knowing why. Barry sings of feeling empty and alone in her domestic life. “Don’t know what I’m missing/I always thought there would be more/Laundry’s piling up right there on the floor.” One thing she takes refuge in is music. It’s not clear if the singer is someone she knows or would like to know; either way, he provides some solace. “Gonna spin your record/Turn up the sound/When I’m lost/That’s where I’m found”.
Barry calls Bare “Americana turned up to 11,” which is a totally apt description. She frequently channels Lucinda Williams in her writing and augments those stylings with the crunch and blare of Neil Young-like guitar licks and, oddly, an occasional Patti Smith-like turn of phrase. But the influences never get in the way of Barry’s own unique style. Her five piece band is fine and her wavering, occasionally pitchy delivery does these songs right.
My verdict? Bare is an impressive debut album from an artist to watch.
The album is available from CDBaby (as a physical and digital release), and iTunes. - Blog Critics


Karen Barry has just completed her debut album, "Bare," which she describes as "a look at life from the middle," or "Americana - Turned up to 11!"

Find it on:

CDBaby (physical and digital release)
Amazon UK



Karen Barry is a passionate and powerful singer-songwriter in the Americana/Folk-Rock tradition. Her down-to-earth nature comes through her music; her songs will stay with you long after she is gone, and the more you listen, the more she seems like an old friend.

The release of Karen Barry's Debut Album "Bare:"

-- Suburban New England Housewife Forsakes Laundry For Recording Studio in Tne Next Town --

March 24, 2011 - Bare, the debut album from singer-songwriter Karen Barry, releases today. Bare is "a look at life from the middle," Karen Barry says, "which has its own kind of turbulence. It's about a place and time in life when you're trying to hold on to the past, live in the present, and not let worry overtake your dreams for the future. It's about a time in life when you're keeping one eye on your kids, and one on your parents, knowing they're all going to be leaving you some day. It's about trying to make sense of all that, and still hang on to your self."

Self-produced by the artist, "Bare" is an album of all original songs. It is her first album. "I've always been a writer," she says, "and a serious music fan. And I've written a lot about music, but this is the first time I've put my passions together this way. It feels right. It was the thrill of a lifetime, really, making this record. And yes, that's what I'm calling it."

"Americana, or alt-country, is really a confluence of folk, rhythm and blues, country and rock and roll, and that's what this album is," says Ms. Barry, adding "With a heavy influence on rock and roll. Rock and roll is traditionally thought of as the voice of the rebel teenager, but rock and roll has been around for a while now, and it's not just for kids anymore. There's a bit of that rebel teenager in us all, I think." She adds, "So, yeah, I guess I'd call this record Americana. Turned up to 11. Unless there's a genre called Tequila & Girl Scout Cookies. That might be more accurate."

Bare was recorded as a live studio album at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, Connecticut over a two day period this winter. "There's a snowed in feeling in this record somewhere," Ms. Barry says. "It's in there somewhere."

Bare features Karen Barry on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica; Keith Haman of New York City, originally from San Diego, California where he was lead guitarist for The HideAways, on electric and acoustic guitars, pedal steel, piano and backing vocals; Bill Shute, of Danbury, Connecticut, originally from Stamford, guitar legend and former lead guitarist of the acclaimed 60's band The D-Men and The Fifth Estate, on acoustic guitar, banjo, and autoharp; Brian Anderson from Bridgeport, Connecticut and bassist for Caravan of Thieves on bass; and Bridgeport musician Tim Walsh on drums. Additional backing vocals are provided by The EverReadys, a singing group that includes Karen Barry's two teenage daughters.