Driftless Pony Club, Embraceables, Laura Barrett | Subterranean | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Driftless Pony Club, Embraceables, Laura Barrett Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Sept. 18, 10:30 p.m. 2009

On her appealingly peculiar full-length debut, last year’s Victory Garden (Paper Bag), Toronto singer-songwriter Laura Barrett (also a member of the Hidden Cameras) serves up homemade pop-folk that ditches the usual guitars for cascading kalimba, pulsing marimba and vibraphone, and slaloming strings and winds. The twinkly arrangments complement her wispy, swooping voice, which imbues her wandering melodies with a veneer of childlike naivete—but no matter how whimsical her music may sound, everything in these unapologetically arty songs has been been charted meticulously. Most have no hooks or choruses—each proceeds as a kind of wide-eyed exploration—but once your ears adjust to Barrett’s idiosyncrasies, it’s easy to get drawn in. Though her lyrics are often hard to swallow—“I still have to use your etiquette / Inclusive of your monikers and novelty shows / Whose lie detector’s onto us / Interrogating motive / Opportunity (no easy route),” goes one dizzying passage—her vocals are easy enough to digest as pure sound. For this performance Barrett will sing and play kalimba and a set of organ bass pedals, joined only by Ajay Mehra on banjo and glockenspiel. The Driftless Pony Club headlines; the Embraceables and Barrett open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

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