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Ghost Notes

Matthew Barber

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Album Review

Critics are going to play spot-the-influence obsessively with this album, in part because critics find the game irresistible and in part because Matthew Barber evokes his influences so unabashedly on his third full-length release. What you hear will depend in part on your age and musical background, but several of the songs on Ghost Notes — especially the slightly wispy "Somebody Sometime" — sound like they could have been lifted off of a middle-period Neil Young album. But what comes through most clearly is his simple love of roots rock and folk-pop in general, not to mention the Tin Pan Alley tradition (check out the deceptively jaunty and, frankly, slightly hackneyed piano part on "I'm Gonna Settle My Accounts with You"). "One Little Piece of My Love" evokes 1950s skiffle music, while "Easily Bruised" perfectly embeds an unassuming hook in a nest of rootswise country-blues licks, Hammond B-3 organ, and acoustic guitar. Barber is constantly dancing back and forth across the line that separates delicate beauty from cloying preciousness: "And You Give" stays just on the right side of that line, while "Our Voices" falls neck-deep into the muck of overearnestness. "You and Me" — like most of the album — splits the difference perfectly, leavening a lusciously simple melody with just the right amount of tasteful steel guitar. Add the strengths and weaknesses together and you end up with a deeply satisfying listening experience.

Customer Reviews

Watch out for Track 11 - it's defective!

I downloaded the whole album, and it's great! Except the bonus track quality is very bad. Even 30 seconds preview has these crackles and stutters in it. iTunes said that they are trying to resolve but not sure when or if it will get resolved.

Found through author Sylvain Reynard

In the book Gabriel's Inferno this artist was mentioned. So of coarse not being from Toronto Canada I came to ITunes and found a Stellar musician Thanks to a brilliant author.

Talented, exciting and honest record

After seeing Matthew play a NYC show, I was an instant fan. He took over room and engaged the audience who were a mix of fans and folks who had never heard of this Canadian singer-songwriter. Ghost Notes highlights for me include "Easily Bruised" and " One Little Piece of My Love," but I am also a big fan of the song "Sleep Please Come to Me" which a rollicking coutry rambler. The album does a great job shifting in tone and tempo leading to the anthemic ending of "Somebody Sometime" and "Our Voices." Listen, buy, and go enjoy his live show.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Matthew Barber grew up in Toronto on oldies records and Top 40 radio. By high school, he was a classic rock freak, and had embraced indie music by the time he reached college. It was around this time that he started fueling his influences into some furious four-tracking. By the early 2000s, Barber was living in Hamilton, Ontario, where he bought graduate-school coffee with money from local solo gigs. In June 2002 he self-released his debut LP, Means & Ends; it showcased a sound somewhere between...
Full Bio
Ghost Notes, Matthew Barber
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Customer Ratings