Since the release of his 2010 album, Love Songs for the Last 20, the momentum hasn’t slowed for hometown hero Del Barber. After snagging a Juno nomination and a couple of Western Canadian Music Awards — not to mention logging some 300 tour dates on the strength of that career-making release — the roots/country troubadour wasted no time recording a follow-up that’s even mightier than its predecessor.
That record is Headwaters, which came out this past Tuesday via Six Shooter Records. When Uptown sat down with Del for coffee, the ink was still drying on his deal with the respected Toronto indie label, which is also home to fellow songwriting heavyweights such as Christine Fellows, Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.
“I signed the paperwork five days ago,” he says with a laugh. “There’s a lot of smoke in this industry, so it’s nice when something’s burning.”
Indeed, to borrow a line from Almost Famous, it’s all happening for Del Barber. If Love Songs… was his introduction to the Canadian roots scene, Headwaters will no doubt confirm his place as a major player. Barber’s third full-length album has a maturity and a wisdom that belies its creator’s 28 years — a result of spending months on the road, yes, but also from being challenged on his ‘absolute’ ideas.
If Del Barber was born a few generations earlier, he would have been riding the rails. Part time employment would have kept him alive, but like so many of his influences and idols, traveling from town to town trading stories and chords with other folkies, and squeezing each and every drop from the fruit life provided would be what kept his heart beating.
More importantly, music fans would hear his songs and use his art as their windshield to new experiences.
Barber is a throwback, a storyteller that lets moments and emotions burn through his soul until they reach his fingertips and find a home with melody. There are endless numbers of songwriters trying to forget the past or simply steal from it, but Barber resides in the rarefied air (think Josh Ritter or Doug Paisley) of talent hoping only to fine tune proven recipes and results.
Just before leaving for tour, Del gathered his legion of trusty musicians, sound engineers, and videographers to film a live rendition of “The Waitress.” Shot in a barn loft in Manitoba, we’re mighty proud.
In preparation for the release of Headwaters, we’ll be release one video each day for 10 days. Catch a glimpse of Del hard at work, and at play, in the studio. The full playlist can be viewed on YouTube.
It’s been a long road to get to this point.The release of Headwaters and the launch of a brand new website. There’s lots to see, and lots to hear. If you haven’t already, sign up for the mailing list to receive a free track of “The Waitress” recorded live at the Old Town School of Folk in Chicago. More to come, folks.