Brad Barr: Ancient Calendars
A fluent guitar instrumental that is gently mesmerising.
By Kerry Doole
Brad Barr: Ancient Calendars (Secret City Records): Brad Barr is the lead singer and songwriter of The Barr Brothers, an Americana-accented band that has earned international attention over the past decade. On Jan. 21, he releases The Winter Mission, his second solo album.
It is an instrumental solo guitar recording that is a strictly DYI affair, with Barr taking on the writing, recording, mixing, and production. Ancient Calendars is the first track to come out, and the tune is both meditative and quietly mesmerising, with Barr's playing crisp and assertive.
In a press release, Barr describes it as "a solo guitar piece, a long-form improvisation where I explore a basic motif and progressively extend it outwards in two directions. I played it on an amplified 12-string acoustic guitar. There are no overdubs. That was the idea while writing and recording this music—one person playing music alone without any accompaniment."
As with all the songs on this record, the title Ancient Calendars is a reference to the number 216 — specifically, how in the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar, a single cycle, or “age”, consisted of 2,160 years. It's also believed that the entire calendar of five great cycles is equal to 2,160 orbits of Jupiter. If they could think that far ahead, you’d think I’d be able to remember my wedding anniversary!” - Brad Barr
The Winter Mission—the follow-up to The Fall Apartment, Barr's 2008 solo debut—had its origins in a commission from Michael Wolk, Artistic Director at New York City's All For One Theater. Barr explains that "I began writing and recording these songs at the end of 2019, having been asked by the good people at All For One to compose new music for their exclusively one-person shows."
In recent years, piano instrumental albums by the likes of Canadians Alexandra Stréliski, Chilly Gonzales, and Charlotte Cardin have made a mark. Now it's time for the guitar.
The Barr Brothers play in Otterburn Park, Quebec, on Feb. 25 and Sherbrroke's Theatre Granada, Feb. 26.
Publicity: Kim Juneja, Take Aim Media