The Sound Cafe
Leah Barley Releases Bring Out Your Dead
By Jason Schneider.
Today, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Leah Barley officially releases her first full-length album Bring Out Your Dead, containing eight stirring original songs that evoke both the jubilation and heartbreak inherent to classic folk and country music. An accomplished banjo player as well as guitarist, Barley is joined on the album by a full band featuring longtime collaborators violist John Kastelic and multi-instrumentalist Ross Christopher Fairbairn to create a sound as affecting today as it was a century ago.
Bring Out Your Dead almost perfectly balances Barley’s light-and-shade approach to songwriting, from the life-affirming first single “Mountains” and the rousing boot stompers “I Wish” and “Drinkin’” to the chill-inducing title track and its spiritual cousin “Rise.” It’s all a product of Barley’s love of old-time country and bluegrass, which inspired her to pick up the banjo in her early twenties while living in Canmore, Alberta.
“I really wanted to share a raw and personal side of myself, so I focused on songs that expressed that best while making sure there was enough variety to showcase who I am as a musician,” she says. “Each song has its own interesting story for me, but some of them have a deeper emotional context and an exposed honesty. It made writing them therapeutic and terrifying at the same time.”
In that spirit, "Mountains" is accompanied by a video made from colour home movies of Barley's grandparents' B.C. honeymoon in 1942. A stunning must-watch.
After a couple of months getting her feet wet at open mic nights, she released the first of three EPs in 2010 after moving to Vancouver. Since 2013, Barley has played in many parts of Canada, both solo and with other bands on the festival circuit, and was a featured performer at JUNOfest 2018, as well as on CBC Music.
She is eager to flex her performing muscles again the first chance she has to get back on stage safely. Until then, Bring Out Your Dead will brilliantly serve as Leah Barley’s calling card, and formally mark the arrival of a vital new voice in Canadian roots music.
Bring Out Your Dead is available now on all streaming platforms, and for purchase via
leahbarleymusic.com and Bandcamp