steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Laura Barrett

"Victory Garden" CD

Paper Bag Records

Genre: singer / songwriter, folk-pop

Toronto, Canada

Oct 31, 2008

Victory Garden pipes through the ceiling speakers of Mr. Thallacker's five-storey mansion. All twelve guests are seated around the infinitely long marble table, surrounded by the expanses of the gargantuan dining room. An impossibly intricate chandelier cascades metamorphosing glitters of light around the room. Mr. Flitwhitter puts down his fork and walks over to the window. "Dear me, we're floating in space..."

Laura Barrett's kalimba-infused singer/songwriter folk belongs in intergalactically drifting mansions. Her sweeping, Goldfrapp-esque voice is elegant but wistfully extraterrestrial, something compounded by the unique melodic tendency employed throughout Victory Garden. This is a strangely pretty record with a whimsical flair, gloriously satisfying from track one to track thirteen.

The journey begins with Narnia-related "Wood Between Worlds," which could accompany the opening credits to a bittersweet suburban film tinged with magical elements. A standout track, it only hints at some of the terrific moments that follow. Elegantly shifting "Spoiler Alert," supplemented by piano, strings and trombone, is one such highlight - pretty yet moving, it is one of the more charming songs of recent times. Also excellent are magical "Escape to the Sun Dome" and expressive "To the Stars!"

Even the weaker songs are hardly disappointments. Marimba-drenched "Bluebird" sounds somewhat unpolished but not unmelodic, while "Rien a Declarer" sounds a tad disorganized but that is - strangely - part of the appeal! Only the unlisted final track, which lays all of the album's songs on top of one another, is truly worthy of complaint. As an experiment it is, perhaps, interesting; however, in execution it is an annoying five minutes to endure if you're planning on leaving Victory Garden to play from start to end.

But let's not end this review on a bad note. Laura Barrett has produced a marvelously original and joyfully melodic record with Victory Garden. Recommended for intergalactic dinner parties and terrestrial listening sessions alike.

laura barrett's myspace


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Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 13 tracks, distributed by the label, released September 23, 2008]