Barbara K

Austin's Barbara K is something of a late bloomer. Now 43, she's just getting her singer-songwriter card punched. Since the early eighties, she allowed the songwriting half of the equation to take a backseat to marriage, motherhood, and the unenviable task of holding together Timbuk3, her quirky combo with husband Pat MacDonald that crashed through the gates of one-hit wonderland in 1986 with "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades." Five years after the dissolution of both the band and the marriage, K has channeled the fear, doubt, and guilt she admits to in Ready's liner notes into a remarkable song cycle hinging instead on love, intuition, and empowerment. Although the instant likability of K's voice could make either the title track or "My Name Is Truth" a nice fit on adult alternative-radio playlists, there are also enough surprisingly thick grooves and five-minute-plus adventures to keep it just left of center. Better yet, there's a sense that genuine conviction and experience punctuate each verse and chorus. Whether you chalk up that realness to the wisdom of age or simply the belated payoff of patience, the overall strength of the songs makes Ready quite timeless.

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