Emily Barker released her new album ‘Sweet Kind of Blue’ on 19 May through 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 new single, ‘Sunrise’, the second to be released from the forthcoming album. Barker wrote ‘Sunrise’ 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.
Catch Emily instore at the following:
Tues 30 May, 6pm – Diverse, Newport
Wed 31 May 6pm – Pie & Vinyl, Southsea
Thu 1 Jun, 6pm – Brill, London
Sat 3 Jun 3pm – Hundred Records, Romsey