December 2006

Patricia Barber - Mythologies
Blue Note Records 0946 3 59564 2 9
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Patricia Barber is a pop chanteuse with a jazz diva's sensibilities. With Mythologies, she has begun to bridge the gap between those seemingly disparate personas, a distance too great for many of her predecessors to address. This album brims over with songs that captivate and entertain.

One of the facets that Barber has going for her that none of her past and present compatriots did is that she writes much of her own material. Mythologies is all hers, so she is not in the position of having to interpret another person’s vision of reality. The subject matter is Greek mythology, but that is simply a starting point. Barber has used those stories to convey the all-too-human elements with which the Greeks infused their myths. None of the songs on Mythologies is going to make Britney Spears break into a cold sweat. They aren’t cutesie-wootsie enough for that. But I doubt that you’ll be able to stop listening until the disc ends. All the songs have melodies that will draw you in and keep running through your mind.

As with any Patricia Barber recording engineered by Jim Anderson, the sound quality is top o' the line. Though recorded in the studio, the music sounds spacious and well defined. Barber’s voice sounds live. Tonal balance is spot on, and each musician has his or her own acoustic space carved out. Another unique aspect of this album is the use of a number of additional musicians to add splashes of color to the proceedings.

An album-of-the-year candidate for sure.