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A virtuoso on the kalimba -- an African instrument also known as the thumb piano -- Toronto-based singer/songwriter Laura Barrett also plays with indie pop collective the Hidden Cameras. Barrett's own music is simpler, often consisting of just the kalimba and her voice, and often quirkier: she began her solo career with a very different cover of the grunge parody "Smells Like Nirvana," which she performed at a Weird Al tribute show. Her song "Deception Island Optimists Club," on the other hand, is as wry as it is bleak, and was a finalist for the SOCAN ECHO songwriting prize. Paper Bag Records signed Barrett and issued her debut EP, Earth Sciences, in early 2008. She recruited double bassist Richard Carnegie and other Toronto-area musicians for her full-length debut, Victory Garden, which arrived in spring 2009. ~ Heather Phares