Everlasting is the second solo CD from Rebecca Barnard, formerly of Rebecca’s Empire and Yarraville local treasure.
My first impression: quiet and restrained, occupying a very adult space between pop and cool jazz. The dove-grey cover art maybe sets up that expectation. Yes, it’ll seem soft and unassuming at first listen, but it’s a mighty album.
Everlasting is like a gemstone which might look soft and grey on the ground, but on closer inspection it’s covered all over with tiny multicoloured facets, and once you see one you discover more and more of these facets and refracted colours, all different.
Barnard, who is a foodie and radio/TV cooking personality in her other life, has another description for it.
“It’s a bit like one of those Chinese stocks that’s been simmering away for years and years,” she says of her new-found musical potency.
“The longer you let it go, the stronger it gets until it’s got all these elements that you’ve been striving for.”
I’ve been tasting this stock for a week and I keep finding more unexpected flavours. The pop sensibility of Rebecca’s Empire is still there in more uptempo songs like Give Way and Fall and Walk. The signature buzzy lead guitar still pops out on occasion (she plays all guitars on this disc) joined by clarinet, cello and other textures.
Everlasting was recorded in a few weeks in New York. Barnard deliberately took herself out of her everyday world to travel to a distant place, but to record with Barney McAll, who she had known since childhood. Other musicians are Dan Reiser (drums), Jonaton Maron (bass), Rufus Cappadocia (cello), Matt Darriau (Clarinet).
Take some time, got to move from there
All that’s left is what you bear
This isn’t a CD for rushing around with a child clinging to your leg, or on the car stereo in noisy traffic. It’s a melodic meditation, with Rebecca’s sweet and husky voice telling you stories in between bursts of her signature sweet harmonies. The ingredients in the stock are the shifts and shocks of adult life, and the flavours are subtle sweet-sour-salty tastes and spices blended by a masterchef. I first listened to the title track, Everlasting, in the kitchen with distractions all around me, and it sounded unexciting, almost filler. Then I listened to it properly and now it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Barnard invites the listener into something deeply precious and personal, hugely generous, a gift.