Harmonious hillbillies

Queen’s grad Matthew Barber tours with seventh album

The Haunted Hillbilly is the name of the musical Barber wrote songs for in 2009. He compiled the twelve songs for his latest album.
The Haunted Hillbilly is the name of the musical Barber wrote songs for in 2009. He compiled the twelve songs for his latest album.
Photo: 
Barber’s latest album is a venture away from his usual indie folk style. Despite his experimentation with country, he says it’s not something he plans to pursue in the future.
Barber’s latest album is a venture away from his usual indie folk style. Despite his experimentation with country, he says it’s not something he plans to pursue in the future.
Photo: 

I’ve played the new Matthew Barber album so much, I’m surprised my iTunes hasn’t deleted it.

His latest album marries together my love of musicals with Barber’s addicting voice.

Barber wrote twelve original songs for the musical The Haunted Hillbilly, which was based off of a book by Derek McCormack.

He became involved in the show through his friend, who he met during his time at Queen’s.

“It was produced by a Montreal theatre company called Sidemart Theatrical Grocery and they’re old friends of mine,” Barber said.

Barber, who graduated from Queen’s in the early 2000s, said he’s been compiling the twelve tracks on his new album since 2009.

The Haunted Hillbilly is a compilation of the music written for the musical with one big, melodic difference — this time, he’s singing his own music.

This album is Barber’s seventh musical conquest since his first release while he was still at Queen’s in 1999 called A Thousand Smiles an Hour.

The album experiments with a variety of country and bluegrass instruments creating an irresistible energy, which gives you the urge to sport a Stetson cowboy hat and dance around to the music.

The songs, which includes catchy tracks like “Got That Lonesome Feeling” and “Father and Son,” show his diverse song-writing prowess.

You don’t have to see the musical in person to understand the songs that you’ll hear on this new country album. Getting to use the fiddle on some of his songs was a highlight on this album, Barber said.

The lyrics — witty, emotional, and darkly humorous — allowed me to get a feel for the music regardless.

“I actually found that the songs came pretty easily. I think that maybe just having the structure of the story, characters … and having that already established script in a way made it pretty easy to write the songs,” Barber said. The country flavour to the album has been a thrill for Barber, but he doesn’t see himself becoming an exclusively country artist in the future.

With seven albums under his belt, it’s not surprising that Barber said he’s not in a rush to make another one.

“I’m at a point now where I’m really not in a rush to make the next one [album]. I just want to work on making sure I have a really good bunch of songs together and we’ll go from there.” Barber’s show kicks off Thanksgiving weekend, the same day that Neil Young and Crazy Horse are set to play the K-Rock Centre.

Barber admits to me that if given the choice, he may have been at the Neil Young show.

“Neil Young’s one of my heroes,” he said, “but I’m hoping people will come to the Grad Club after his show.”

Matthew Barber plays the Grad Club tonight.

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