Home Album review Del Barber – Almanac

Del Barber – Almanac

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Del Barber has been consistently keeping fans on their toes for over a decade. This year, he is back with his fifth album, Almanac.

Del is a multi-talented singer-songwriter and guitarist who hails from rural Manitoba. With multiple award nominations from the Western Canada Music Awards, Juno Awards and the Canadian Folk Music Awards, he is a familiar face in Canada’s folk and roots scene. In the past, his name has graced the pages of Rolling Stone magazine and Bluegrass Situation.

Almanac encapsulates Del’s ability to jump between genres, incorporating folk, country bluegrass and rock. The project seemingly traces a lifetime of memories and emotions as Del strums through the dozen tracks.

His trademark acoustic guitar is always present on every song, with subtle chord progressions and easy, soft rhythms. The album tends to follow a central pattern, dancing between slow, melancholic songs and upbeat, high-tempo ballads.

Del’s farmboy roots are ever present on Almanac, as references to the toils of farm life are an enduring theme throughout the project.

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“One Good Year” discusses the struggles that can come when the seasons are less than ideal and your crops don’t yield the expected results. Layered over an upbeat tempo and an electric guitar rhythm, the song discusses Del’s envy towards his neighbours and hopes that the next year will work out.

Themes of love and moving on are also present throughout the twelve-track set. Songs such as “Maria” and “I Told You So” encapsulate the trials and tribulations that come with relationships. They each tell a story about how despite hardships and petty arguments, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Songs like “Jared” and “Me and Jim” are melancholic allegories that speak of past transgressions and remember close friends that have long since passed. Both tracks follow soft, acoustic progressions, with a subtle beat. The latter song eventually picks up, infusing electric and steel guitars as the song closes out.

Throughout the album, Del is able to deftly paint clear visuals for listeners, as his lyrics invite audiences into the confines of his mind. He discusses everything from what God would wear if he were a human, to a woman shooting a calf with a shotgun while she sips her coffee.

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Del incorporates a variety of instruments and styles throughout the album, which give each song its own unique feel.

On “Still Got You,” he uses slow finger-picking riffs on the electric guitar to incorporate a bluesy feel that seemingly flows into the chugging electric rhythm that rounds out the song.

Steel guitars, a staple across country and folk music, can be found throughout the album, adding to the melancholic emotion of such songs as “Even God Almighty” and “Bulls.” On the former, it paints a picture of a sunset, as another day ends.

The sound of the banjo can also be heard throughout the album, with the best coming in the form of a quick solo on the album’s closing track “On my way out the door.”

Del is able to switch effortlessly between melancholic and humorous lyricism across the project, allowing the listener to find the high points in even the lowest depths.

With Almanac, Del continues to showcase his signature songwriting ability and genre fluidity that have endeared him to so many.

 

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