Photography by Andre Guerette
It is not very obvious when first listening to The Barr Brothers that the Montreal four piece includes a harpist. But that fact is a pretty dynamic part of their sound, and vital in the story of how the band got together.
The brothers Barr, Andrew (on the far right) and Brad (second from the left) have long been playing music together. But The Barr Brothers didn’t materialize until Brad had moved to Montreal. The story of the harp addition goes something like this: Brad heard someone playing the harp
through the wall in his apartment, so he fiddled around on his guitar until he could play the same tune and went up to knock on the door. Sarah Page answered the door, but didn’t recognize the tune played on guitar. A few months later, with the addition of Page as harpist, and longtime friend Andres Vial, The Barr Brothers formed.
Their newly re-released self-titled album that drops today, is a really solid folk rock album. The lead single, Beggar in the Morning, is absolutely beautiful and a really great song. But if you consider Beggar the middle, their album strays a bit more bluegrassy on Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying and dips down to the slower end of the spectrum on Cloud (for Lhasa).
It’s hard to even remember that one fourth of the band’s sound is harp when listening to some of the tracks. But on others you really can’t miss it. Though if you’re looking to really hear it featured well, Cloud is the tune to listen to.
But really, their sound is best understood when heard live. There are so many small details that the brothers have painstaking put into their album that are only noticeable when you see the foursome play live. I caught them in June at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, and unsurpisingly they were great. There’s a lot of warbling in their sound (see the first minute or so of Beggar in the Morning) that is created by tiny strings that Brad tied onto his guitar strings and pulls on while he plays. The band is also known
for swapping instruments frequently during their sets, so their sound is much fuller.
Overall, The Barr Brothers are a band that is likely to stick around. Grab the new album here. And please, please, please, go see them live.
They’re launching a huge North American tour this fall, and will stop off in Boston at Cafe 939 on December 1st. Check out the rest of the dates here.