Published Nov 22, 2008The elegant Chances is a serious departure for Jill Barber, whos so far made a name for herself as a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter. With a full orchestra behind her, a Blossom Dearie-like Barber croons romantic tunes in a classic style, sweeping through songs inspired by the likes of Patsy Cline and Ella Fitzgerald. Disarmingly sweet but not forced, one would have to be frigid to resist her earnest homage to the standards of yesteryear. Inspired by a onetime gig with Symphony Nova Scotia, Barber considered doing an album of standards before deciding to craft her own traditional pop. The album was composed during a rigorous songwriting residency at the Banff Centre. Ron Sexsmith joined her, and co-wrote three tracks, and producer Les Cooper wrote and recorded the lush arrangements with a ten-piece band. The result is a fully realized tribute to vintage performance, anchored in the present by Barbers heartfelt songwriting.
Chances is so distinctive. What made you want to make this kind of album?
I think, for some time now, Ive been writing songs that have called out for that kind of classic production style, but I havent really been able to afford it. This is the first time I made a record with a label, so it afforded me the opportunity to make the album of my dreams, really.
Do you feel as though this kind of earnest, uplifting music is rare nowadays?
I cant help but write from my heart, and I do write this unabashedly romantic music. And Im aware that that kind of goes against modern trends, but I figure as long as I am earnest, and I am sincere, and I do deliver it with conviction, my hope is that if I lay down my arms and show my heart that other people will lay their arms down too instead of keeping them crossed on their chests.
What Id really like to do is perform with more symphony orchestras across the country. Theres one in every province, and I have been lucky enough to play with Symphony Nova Scotia, but I would love to do what I did that night. It was a magical evening, and this totally rare and unique opportunity for me [and] also for the audience, to hear a contemporary singer-songwriter backed by a symphony orchestra. (Outside)