You Know How It Is

You Know How It Is

There’s a looming spirituality that works its way through the cracks of the Barbers’ second release, You Know How It Is. Perhaps it’s because they recorded in a former Baptist church in Austin, perhaps it’s their Southern roots, as thick as kudzu, perhaps it’s the angelic plinking of Elaine Barber’s harp. Yes, a harp. These are the buoys marking Lee Barber’s wonderfully funny, insightful and twisted lyrics, which he sings with a voice eerily reminiscent of James McMurtry. “Tissue and Twine” is a ballad of love lost, nudged gently along by harp and slide guitar, an odd combination that works because the melody is so simple and beautiful Burt Bacharach might curse himself for not writing it. The rest is alternately gritty and sweet. The Flannery O’Connor-ish tropes of “Life Is Strange” are draped over harp, dobro, trumpet flourishes, and metronomic percussion. “Killed by Love” is a Southern Gothic molasses-thick blues threnody; “Mile Marker” is a country-tinged brush with death. The album ends quietly with “Next Time,” a lullaby lovingly harmonized by Lee and Elaine. No doubt next time will be even better. by Luann Williams

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