Review: Annie Barker – …For A Better Place.

If an artist must have comparisons bestowed on her than there are few better to be linked to than Karen Carpenter, Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins’ Liz Frazer. Such accolades were thrust on to LA-born/UK-based Annie Barker in response to her 2007 debut ‘Mountains And Tumult’. She has been a little quiet since but a new EP is a solid reminder of this great talent.

The press release indicates that Barker is fitting in to the Dreampop and ethereal genre seamlessly. This is a slightly disappointing announcement given some of the most exciting moments on the debut were to be found in the more outré material conjured up by Barker and producer Robin Guthrie. Neverthless, ‘Cruel’ begins and ends the EP and finds Barker in great voice – cooing, ululating and warbling quite beautifully – even if the arrangements are a little pedestrian. ‘So Refined’ drifts in to ambient territory but ‘Coats Off’ benefits from subtle yet diverting hooks from both the jangly backdrop and Barker’s own enigmatic tones. That just leaves ‘Ghetto Birds’, which is unfortunately only dreamy in the soporific sense.

Both lyrically and vocally, Barker clearly has some great tools at her disposal but the arrangements on this EP aren’t really imaginative enough for her to stretch her wings and truly fly. One can’t help feel that more experimentation next time would help her achieve her full potential.

Web Sites:
Annie Barker Official Site

Further Listening:
Cocteau Twins, The Plague Monkeys, Heligoland

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