Kevin Barker’s music is like a warm, inviting living room. The drums and bass are sturdy and reserved, yet comfortable; the guitar and keys are sparsely textured and decorative; and the overall vibe lends itself to easy, melodic conversation over a drink or two.
Guitarist for Philadelphia’s Vetiver, Barker holds an open house with his first solo release, You & Me. It is a fascinating tour through a steady, impressive nine compositions, led by Barker and a host of friends, including Pat Sansone (Wilco), Joanna Newsom, Jonathan Wilson (Elvis Costello, Jenny Lewis), Eric Johnson (Shins, Fruit Bats), and Otto Hauser (Vetiver, Espers). Each mahogany composition glows, the instrumentation breathes, and the space allows for exploratory interplay by the musicians. Barker’s voice is warm, his presence stoked by his guests’ innate musicality. Standouts include the jaunty “Little Picture of You,” bolstered by a shifting, toe-tapping rhythm and improvisational feel; “Walking Along,” with its mellow crawl; and the heartfelt calm of “Amber” and its sepia-toned longing.
If writing and recording You & Me wasn’t stress free and easy, then Kevin Barker and his cohorts have certainly done a good job hiding the challenges and emitting an effortless aura. This colorful debut offers a welcome opportunity to sit back in the beat, feet propped on the wiry leads, and head tipped back and immersed in Barker’s cool, cool world.
You & Me is out now on Gnomonsong Records.