The Fall Apartment – Brad Barr
Tompkins Square 2011
If a band CD is like a novel, a record of solo acoustic music is more akin to a diary entry. Items in the latter category have an inherent charm just as many of us can relate to the idea of sitting down in a quiet moment and jotting down some thoughts, those of us who own an instrument can relate to the idea of just sitting down and playing. However, the simplicity of the form means that it takes an artist of rare vision to avoid mundane results.
The Slip's Brad Barr has the command of his instrument to achieve that goal, and he’s studied his predecessors. The opener, “Sarah Through The Wall,” establishes this quickly, presenting an appealing finger-picked melody and then taking it through some surprising harmonic shifts in the bridge. “Bouba’s Bounce” has the raga influence that Jimmy Page took from Bert Jansch, and “War” ventures into musique concr, with a rainstorm and a distant guitar shadowing Barr’s lead statement. There’s also a recontextualized melody (Nirvana's “Heart Shaped Box”) and a venture into the distorted terrain John Fahey explored in his last years (“Do I Have To Understand That?”).
Barr may not have the vision of Fahey just yet. Nonetheless, fans of the form will hope that he takes more time away from writing novels with The Slip to write journal entries.