The 3rd and final London date saw Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo bring the Record Store Tour to Exmouth Market well Brill in fact. This was especially fitting for me as this was where I first saw Emily back in 2009 when she performed as part of Record Store Day.
“Hello everyone. How you doing? Thank you very much for coming down. We’re Emily Barker & two of The Red Clay Halo” Barker said before they kick started the short but sweet set with the title track of the new album. This being Dear River which was a song about a journey “Show me bright city lights/ And streets I’ve never seen/ Make a home for me on the path in between/ Then move me on like an autumn bird/ For I wanna fly all around the world”. The tune itself was an infectious toe tapping number which had a folk/ country feel to it. After some retuning it was onto another tune from the new LP and this being Tuesday. This is the 2nd track on the new record. Now this tune basically tells you the story of abandonment “There’s no room for us here/ In all this emptiness/ We’ve gotta run dear/ We’ve gotta run dear/ Dear heart of mine we’ve gotta go”. Tuesday was played at a fast pace and both vocal performance/ harmonising were fantastic. It was then onto a song about Emily’s grandfather who was exiled from Rotterdam during World War II.
Letters was both soft and mellowing. I actually found it slightly emotional as the lyrics made you easily picture an image of what was happening in the song. Also the lyrics were straight to the point and gave you a crystal clear image of what Barker’s Grandfather and brother went through. Once over it was then straight onto Ghost Narrative. I liked this tune because it was smooth/ laid back plus Barker played the harmonica as well as her acoustic guitar at the same time. Its lyrics were actually rather upbeat and infectious “We walked this land together, tearing our hearts out/ We’ll walk this land together, ’til the truth it is out”. It was then onto an oldie and this was Disappear which featured on the sophomore album Despite The Snow. Like Dear River which opened up the set this was a toe tapping number which had been perfectly written. I actually found this to be rather contagious and it was also fast flowing.
“We’ll do a couple more” Emily said before mentioning that they would be signing immediately after. It was then onto The Blackwood which was a love song to her first home. This song gave me the chills, it was soothing and hypnotic. The Blackwood (which is infact the river where Barker grew up) as delivered at a steady pace and even with the fact that they were playing outside, I hung onto every word sung completely captivated. “Thanks for coming along” a humble Emily Barker said before bigging up the shop where she used to word. Rounding off the evening was a track from Almanac. This being the upbeat and jolly Calendar.
OVERALL: I have much love for Emily Barker’s music and the new LP Dear River is extraordinary. Thankfully it didn’t rain as the performance took place outside. Not even the fact that the shop was near a pub spoilt the set. The evening was highly enjoyable and Barker’s vocal were powerful as there was no use of microphones