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  • Smash
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2013
Patricia Barber is one of my two favorite musicians, the other being Leonard Cohen. She's that good. Smash is an outstanding piece of work. Like most of her albums, I didn't fall in love with it on first listen, but it has grown on me considerably with each subsequent spin. Although Patricia Barber is usually categorized as a jazz musician and Concord is certainly thought of as a jazz label, the music on Smash defies any simplistic classification. The majority of the album is not what I think of as jazz in any traditional sense of the word. Smash has many moments that blend jazz with rock, hard rock, pop, and even dance. And rest assured there are many exceptionally nice piano, guitar, bass, and drum passages sprinkled throughout. Smash is also an amalgam of tempos with about 50% being slow, 25% fast, and the remainder somewhere in between. The quality of the sound is about as good as it gets on redbook CDs. Of the 12 tracks, there is really only one that didn't float my boat, which is Romanesque, the shortest track and to my ears a snore from start to finish. But the rest of the album I really like, and at least two tracks are flat out superb: Devil's Food and Bashful (the latter being the only 100% instrumental track on the album). If I have any disappointment with Smash, it's that the CD is packaged in one of those stupid cardboard cases rather than a jewel box. Boo to Concord for that!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
I think that I own everything that Patricia Barber has ever recorded. In my opinion this is her finest effort yet. If you only buy one Patricia Barber album in your life, this is the one that you should get. Wonderful lyrics, beautifully sung, and the music really soars. For those who care about such things, the sound quality is absolutely flawless. If you are already a fan, don't hesitate, you will love it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 13, 2013
I will admit, when I first started to listen to this I was influenced more than I care to admit by the lukewarm review in Down Beat. To tell the truth, on first listen I was at 4 stars. But something compelled me to listen to this c.d. Over and over. And after 20 listens, I break to write this review, before returning for a 21st listen.

With a Patricia Barber release of original songs, you generally can expect music that is a mix of jazz and prog rock, and very intelligent-sounding poetry that sounds like the output of an advanced poetry workshop of a major university. But I initially was concerned here, as the great guitarist and bassist of previous recordings, Neal Alger and Michael Arnopol, were replaced by John Kregor and Larry Kohut. No reason to worry; there is no drop-off whatsoever in the music, which is stunning.

Where Down Beat got it wrong, IMO, was in its criticism of the lyrics. That reviewer said, in so many words, that the lyrics sort of obscurely dwindled to nothing too many times. Maybe that's a not invalid way to look at it after a listen or two. But after multiple listenings, you realize that these lyrics fit this music to a tee. And when you read them in the liner notes, you get where Ms. Barber was coming from.

Each piece is a part of a whole. The gestalt is the speaker's examination of relationships. The shiftiness of relationships ("Redshift," track 5). The dizziness of relationships ("Devil's Food," track 7). The destruction of relationships ("Smash," track 4). The grounding of relationships ("The Storyteller," track 11). The desire that is always there in a long-lasting relationship ("Missing," track 12). And the realization that when it comes down to it, the relationship that most matters is the one with God. ("Scream," track 8). These lyrics do anything but dwindle into nothingness or obscurity. Yes, the allegorical writing is a bit difficult, a bit dense at times. But like the music, stick with the lyrics. They may not get to you right away, but they will eventually.

Now, excuse me while I listen to this a 21st time. RC
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2013
I can not say enough about how much I love Patricia Babber's singing and approach to her world of Jazz...It is unique and moving and brings me into the song/story with a edge and feeling of emoting these words and story telling..Very powerful and beautiful at the same time..
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2013
Qualifier: Patricia Barber is my favorite female vocalist (don't tell Cassandra Wilson...). I jumped on the bandwagon with _Modern Cool_, worked my way back through her earlier CDs and have been on board for everything subsequent. I judge this work only as it stacks up to her other albums, since it just isn't fair to judge her by her "peers," such as they are.

While I love her songwriting ("Touch of Trash," "Winter," "What a Shame") it is partly because those songs don't have to stand by themselves in a larger setting. I miss her alternative takes on established melodies, lyrics, moods and styles ("The Beat Goes On," "Light My Fire," "Norwegian Wood"), because they work so well with her originals. I don't particularly want just one or the other.

If I had to choose one format over the other, I'd take _The Cole Porter Mix_ over _Verse_, but I'd really miss _Mythologies_. So why not throw "Too Rich For My Blood" right after "Ode to Billy Joe" (_Cafe Blue_)? Or "Black Magic Woman" after "If This Isn't Jazz" (_Companion_)? Or "She's a Lady" following "Let It Rain" (_Modern Cool_)? While I like "Code Cool," "The Wind Song," "Scream," and "Bashful," I also want a shot of "The Beat Goes On," "You & the Night & the Music," "The Thrill Is Gone," or even "My Funny Valentine" or "Autumn Leaves."

Don't make me choose....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
This CD is above and beyond. I'm not aware of anyone who does jazz quite like Patricia Barber. I am absolutely in love with this CD. Outstanding! My favorites are Code Cool and Smash. Lots of unexpected twists. Not your standard fare.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2013
If you don't know this artist, start anywhere - from Modern Cool to the Cole Porter Mix. You're in for hours and hours of one of the most stylish, polished, intelligent composer/pianist/vocalist of our times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
Barber always delivers an incredible performance. This is another that is most fulfilling! I will collect as many of her performances as possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2013
What can one say about Patricia Barber? She challenges jazz conventions brilliantly. Her band is at the top of its form and her compositions continue to display her attention to detail, incredible shades and textures, a tension and release that reveal her mastery. I love this album and cannot recommend it enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
There is a very wide range of music, moods and styles here . .. all Patricia Barber originals! She breaks new ground here. Her voice is incredibly seductive. . . her piano playing is evocative and daring!
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