Phase Of The Moon is the new stirring and soulful offering from Toronto singer-songwriter Matthew Barber. Following his Gary Louris-produced Big Romance (2014) and Juno-nominated collaboration with sister Jill Barber on The Family Album (2016), Phase Of The Moon marks Barber's confident return to producing himself, with veteran Ken Friesen (The Tragically Hip, Carly Rae Jepsen, Gordon Lightfoot) handling the engineering duties.
The songs were conceived in an apartment in the quaint Paris neighborhood of Montmartre. It came with a small upright piano and thin walls, which explains why piano songs sung in deeper, hushed tones feature prominently here. The winter sojourn provided a welcome respite from the all-consuming media madness back home, and coupled with a steady diet of existentialist reading, served to foster a mood of almost contented melancholy. The quiet storm is punctuated by affirmations of love, hope and wonderment, and a spirit of embracing life in all its complexity endures. "‘The Painter' was written after a moving visit to a nearby art museum," says Barber. "‘Hanging On The Line‘ begins as a paean to modest values and morphs into a loose commentary on our wayward modern civilization. The title track is probably the most personal song on the record about the struggle to overcome setbacks beyond our control. ‘All In A Dream' is how I sometimes feel when I'm traveling, putting reality on hold for a little while."
The performances were captured in the historic Almonte Town Hall in eastern Ontario, with its ghosts, high ceilings and Steinway grand piano. Starting with the solo vocal and piano or vocal and guitar, the tracks were built outwards and took on different shapes as other instruments were added at Friesen's studio in Almonte, as well as back in Toronto where the exquisite string parts were arranged by Drew Jurecka. The record was mixed by Darryl Neudorf (Blue Rodeo, Neko Case, Sarah McLachlan) at his barn in Mono, Ontario, and the artwork was created by Toronto artist Heather Goodchild.