Quotes for "Smash"

“The album, a brilliant collection of original songs, all dispatched with Barber’s famously voluptuous voice and steeped in her atmospheric instrumental settings, marks a major step forward for one of the most significant jazz artists to come out of Chicago in the past two decades or more. These songs, often ambiguous in meaning but extremely seductive in tone, crystallize the high craft of Barber’s writing while inspiring unorthodox arrangements and often wizardly solo pianism.”

Chicago Tribune


“Barber’s clear, relaxed singing and understated but expressive piano playing continue to offer a winning mix of warmth and cool…their dreamy nuances reward your attention.”

* * * (out of four)

USA Today


“Conspicuously literate and restlessly inventive.”

The New Yorker


“Patricia Barber tends to stand out. It’s hard not to notice a stylish, nearly six-foot-tall woman striding purposefully into a sleek coffee shop, as she does on a mild early-December afternoon in Chicago’s trendy Andersonville neighborhood. Even if you didn’t know that an international jazz star had just entered the room, you’d take a good look at her. Her music is equally arresting, even if it’s not easy to grasp at first. Packed with witty, intellectual lyrics, startling harmonic twists and vocals that range from a dusky whisper to a piercing scream, Barber’s music isn’t easily categorized. Her mix of jazz, pop and art song results in something completely unique.”



“Barber braids wrenching, elemental poetry into a private musical language fashioned from the yearning ache of Bill Evans’ piano, Joni Mitchell’s zigzag introspections, Jobim’s winking mix of high-end philosophy and pastel melody and an occasional explosion of skronk and funk.”



“Few performers in or out of jazz are as consistently brilliant as Patricia Barber. Smash, her first album for Concord Jazz, simply reconfirms Barber’s status as a consummate artist…Brainy. Beautiful.”



“Barber has an arresting vocal instrument that she controls beautifully. She can sing softly or powerfully - whatever is needed for the material - and her compositions are more like paintings than songs…Smash is an interesting offering from a talented artist managing to create her own musical genre.”

The New York City Jazz Record


“Smash is an extraordinary achievement. Here, jazz is popular music without being anything other than itself. Its depth, creativity, searing poetry, and artisan musicianship make it a peerless accomplishment.” 4 Stars

All Music


“Smash is resoundingly adult, intelligent and best of all, musically absorbing.” ****1/2

ICON Monthly


“Hot? Yes. Filled with many surprises both lyrically and musically? Yes. These are songs about love, loss, anger and pain. There’s a tune about gay marriage with a solid disco vamp in the middle and the title track is particularly visceral, closing with a searing rock guitar solo. The musical proficiency is high here but the levels of emotional intensity and inventiveness are even higher.” *****

Daily News (McKeesport, PA)


“Patricia Barber's fans get a kick out of hearing the dusky-voiced singer-pianist wade neck-deep in arch romanticism, and she's found a way to make cocktail music that's as fetching as it is strange.”

Time Out Chicago


“Jazz vocalist/pianist/songwriter/bandleader Patricia Barber, remains a true original. While her style is as inimitable as Billie Holiday’s, her emotional affect is far cooler, and often suggests danger lurking just below the surface. For Smash, her first recording for Concord Records, Barber again sings in the unmistakable low-voiced, cool, quasi-parlando style that has brought her fame. Together with her guitarist, bassist, and drummer, she presents 12 new songs that mix oft-arcane lyrics with sensational arrangements characterized by percussive explosions.”

Bay Area Reporter


“…be it love, loss or satire, no one among active jazz performers melds notes and words with the powerful fragility, the delicate incision, the brazen honesty of Patricia Barber. As a pianist and vocalist, she is a force to be reckoned with. As a songwriter, she is pure devastation…Smash is not an album to take you down, but a cycle of songs that remind you that there’s life within pain, stubborn hope within loss, beauty in darkness. And a bright future for the art of jazz singing and songwriting. Patricia Barber has plenty more to say.”

Jazz Police


“Cool tunes, such as ‘Code Cool’ and ‘The Wind Song’ offer a counterpoint to smoldering numbers as the title track (just wait for the electric guitar solo!), the warmth of the guitar/piano/vocal combo of ‘Redshift’ and the tasty funk of ‘Devil’s Food.’ Barber flashes her political side on ‘Scream’ and isn’t bashful about including an instrumental number such as ‘Bashful.’”

Baltimore OUTloud


“Vocalist/pianist Patricia Barber’s 25-year career has been brilliantly marked by a complete unwillingness to compromise her approach to music. She exists in that uncharted creative realm where she successfully defies classification as a purveyor of any particular musical movement or genre. These characteristics spotlight Barber’s role as an innovator and catalyst for musical evolution, a musician performing from the front edge rather than the middle of the creative muse…Smash gratefully arrives out of almost nowhere to push the jazz envelope out a little further.”



“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…among the best albums released in recent months.”



“Barber’s is an original voice within an original voice.  That is to say her singing voice is like no one else’s and she composes, plays piano and sings tales that are so strongly her own, unique while still being connected to American jazz traditions. That seems like artistry to me.”

International Review of Music


“When I listen to Patricia Barber sing, I think of her not so much as a jazz singer than as a poet reciting her work, with the depth and feeling that only the originator of that work can deliver. A poet who happens to be a technically polished pianist, a clever arranger and bandleader. OK, so it’s perhaps more accurate to state that she’s a great poet who is also a legitimate musician. Kind of astonishing when you consider there are scant few these days who are so good at both anywhere near the field of jazz.”

Something Else!


“Barber says she finds inspiration from poets rather than lyricists, and some of her lines glow with simple beauty.”

Jazz Inside Magazine


“Barber’s voice, often barely raised above a whisper, is pitch perfect and full of aching and poetry, while her lyrics could challenge Leonard Cohen and leave most others behind. The music is no mere accompaniment to the lyric but often plays against it to produce odd effects. We’re a long way from Lennon and McCartney here. It’s a challenging and melancholic offering from a very serious artist, a disc that will repay repeated listening and possibly transport you to new regions.”

Enjoy the Music.com


“Once again, Barber has taken the road not just less traveled, but far less traveled.”



“…go in with your mind engaged.”

Aspen Times


“Smash, her 11th release and her first for Concord, takes as its themes love and loss, and as a consequence Barber leaves behind the sense of ironic distance she sometimes conveys in her earlier recordings. She also casts her stylistic net wider, including elements of rock music in ways that enrich her songs…” ****1/2



“Musical ideas that defy categorization.”

Audiophile Audition


“…after Barber finishes singing ‘Smash,’ there is a pause, and something new happens. I won’t tell you what occurs, but I will say that it allows ‘Smash’ to stand on its own, as well as act as a partner to ‘Romanesque.’ There are several moments like that on Barber’s album: restrained quartet improvisations placed between stanzas; songs without recapitulations at the end because they just don’t need to be there; and poetic lyrics that dig far deeper than the sentiments of Tin Pan Alley scribes or earnest folk/rock songwriters.”

Jazz History Online


“Smash is a delight for any jazz fan. Patricia Barber is one of the best jazz singers to come along in the last twenty years, and her latest release shows why. Fans of Patricia Barber will not be disappointed with this release. While anybody outside the jazz world will probably not be able to appreciate this album, individuals who enjoy jazz music will indeed enjoy Patricia Barber, and will want to own this album. With Smash, Patricia Barber smashes this one out of the park.”



“The musicianship is first rate, as we’ve come to expect with Barber’s work. Adding great performances to this recording are John Kregor on guitar, Larry Kohut on bass and John Deitemyer on drums. The project bridges the storytelling tradition of jazz with its the avant garde side. The recording is as unique a creation as the artist who created this incredibly effective work.”

The JazzPage


“One of the best vocal recordings for 2013…Barber’s Smash accomplishes what every artist should set out to accomplish and does so with cutting edge honesty and raw emotion.”