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Patricia Barber’s Smash
Posted on January 24, 2013     by inunes

On January 22, the Chicago-based singer and pianist Patricia Barber released Smash, her debut on the Concord Jazz imprint. Both musically and lyrically, the 12 original tracks on the new disc showcase an artist in fine form. In addition to being a compellingly eclectic tunesmith, Barber remains, as ever, a poetic, exacting lyricist.

In the February digital issue of JAZZIZ, which will be available at on February 1, John Frederick Moore profiled Patricia Barber in a detailed cover story. In that piece, Moore describes a song on Smash called “Redshift”:

“‘Redshift’ employs concepts of quantum physics and astrophysics to limn the end of a relationship. (Barber says she holed up for 10 days in the country, poring over science textbooks, to get certain images exactly right.) On top of a seductive bossa nova rhythm, Barber delivers clever references to protons, curved trajectories and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. For most of the song, the device puts the emotional core of the narrative at a certain remove, but that only makes the final line — ‘You are leaving me’ — utterly devastating. ‘I’m very aware of the way that you hear it the first time,” she says. “And I’m very aware of the fact that it should hit you at a certain point and have an effect. I should be able to predict when people will laugh or when they will cry.’”

“Redshift” is one of the many highlights on Smash, which certainly counts among the best albums released in recent months.

“She reminds me of some of those great performers, like a Judy Garland, just somebody who’s so completely wrapped up in their performance that it just lights up the rest of the room,” says pianist Kenny Werner in Moore’s cover story. “There’s a bit of intensity, there’s definitely a serious sexuality, sometimes a pathos — all the elements that make for a dramatic performance. But she expresses that drama with poetry that makes it high art.”

Smash is available now. John Frederick Moore’s story will be available soon. Both are well worth your time.