Patricia Barber A Distortion of Love on Numbered Edition Hybrid SACD from Mobile Fidelity
Acclaimed Pianist/Singer’s Oft-Neglected 1992 Sophomore Effort Teems With Poetic Enterprise and Intrepid Originality
Smooth, Transparent Sonics Worthy of an Intimate Venue: Audiophile Favorite Steams Up Mirrors With Enchanting Melodies, Breathy Vocals, Daring Originality
Patricia Barber’s origins are commonly associated with 1994’s Café Blue and the follow-up, 1998’s Modern Cool. Both quickly established the singer/pianist as an immediate audiophile favorite whose rare combination of astute instrumental performance, daring originality, poetic enterprise, intrepid vocals, and sculpted production announced her as an artist that both takes immense care in her music as well as in her sound. While largely unknown to many, 1992’s diverse A Distortion of Love signaled the beginning of Barber’s unfettered creativity.
Mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered-edition hybrid SACD of the Chicagoan’s sophomore album features the similar wowing detail and perspective-altering clarity offered on the reissue label’s celebrated versions of Mythologies, The Cole Porter Mix, and the now out-of-print and extremely sought-after Café Blue, Modern Cool, Companion, and Nightclub.
Such is the attention brought to Barber’s tastefully reverb-assisted singing, the quartet’s stripped-down arrangements, the grand piano’s resonance, the background finger snaps, and the astounding transparency of every note and breath uttered in the studio. Smoothness, balance, and neutrality abound. Through and through, this is an audiophile delight.
While national acclaim wouldn’t come to Barber until the mid-90s, it wasn’t because she didn’t provide notice of her monumental talent and MacArthur Grant-worthy inventiveness. On A Distortion of Love, her individuality manifests on a surprisingly eerie rendition of the standard “Summertime” and subsequent “Subway Station No. 5,” a lengthy piece adorned with atmospheric nervousness, tonal shifts, and contrapuntal movements that ultimately lead into a swinging theme.
Barber, guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, bassist Marc Johnson, and percussionist Adam Nussbaum achieve like-minded heights on an improvised and clever read of the Temptations’ “My Girl.” Here, and again especially on the aptly titled “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” Barber’s textured vocals seemingly float on a jet-black plain, emanating as if her lips and mouth are just feet away, the slap of the acoustic bass and patter of the drums responding in kind to her expressiveness. Whether you’re familiar with this album, a longtime Barber fan, or just coming to her for the first time, Mobile Fidelity’s SACD will please even the sternest critics of vocal jazz.
Get your numbered pressing of this audiophile nugget by ordering from Music Direct today!
"As is the case with Mobile Fidelity’s previous reissues of Patricia Barber's Premonition albums, the sound here is about as good as it gets… The sound has clarity and naturalness that enhance the ability to fully understand what Barber is trying to accomplish. Her piano has percussiveness, crispness and full size that allow you to suspend disbelief and feel like you are in the presence of the real thing. The acoustic bass is large, full and appropriately woody. The electric guitar slashes its way through any part it’s asked to play. Drums are crisp and sharp. But it's Barber’s vocals that really stand out as three-dimensional."
—The Audio Beat, August 2014
Patricia Barber A Distortion of Love Track Listing:
2. Subway Station No. 5
3. You Stepped Out of a Dream
4. Parts Parallels
5. Or Not To Be
6. Yellow Car
7. Yet Another In a Long Series of Yellow Cars
8. I Never Went Away
9. My Girl
10. Be Myself