Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Paul Baribeau - Unbearable

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Artist Website: Paul Baribeau
Netlabel Website: If You Make It

Track list:

1 - If I Knew
2 - Eight Letters
3 - How Could That Be True
4 - The Wall
5 - Rolling Clouds
6 - Blue Cool
7 - The Mall
8 - Poor Girls
9 - Black Strat
10 - Wild Eyes

Download links: [MP3]

While Paul Baribeau's unique, stripped down take on folk-punk certainly won't appeal to everyone (including some fans of the genre), his newest album Unbearable was recently offered as a free download through the indie/DIY website If You Make It, making it worth at least a listen or two.

For those listeners who haven't encountered Baribeau's work before, it's just Paul singing over his acoustic guitar. Most of his past songs (including the first few tracks from his previous album Grand Ledge) are played at an incredibly quick tempo, hence the "folk-punk" label. However, Unbearable marks several changes for Baribeau's sound; the overall tempo of the music being one of them. Right from the first track If I Knew, it becomes apparent that the feel of this album is decidedly more laid-back than his last full-length; with a more "rock" sound than punk. This isn't really a bad thing, and is actually quite refreshing, but fans of Baribeau's earlier music might mistake it as a lack of energy.

Another big change between Paul's last album and this one is the use of overdubs for the vocals. With Grand Ledge, it was a single vocal line and a single guitar line for every song. On Unbearable, several of the songs utilize a second vocal track during the choruses. Granted, most of the overdubs are just unison vocal lines, but it adds a bit of depth to the melodies, and makes it easier to stay focused on the music.

Track number four, The Wall brings about the last noticeable change between the two albums. The song opens up with Baribeau's signature acoustic guitar strumming, but also adds an electric guitar to play a few bars of melody before the vocals come in, and then also a little later in the song. This caught me a little by surprise, since every song of Paul's that I've listened to up to this point were just his voice and his guitar.

Other than the differences listed above, Unbearable still retains the simplicity and charm of Baribeau's past work. Most of the songs either focus on, or are indirectly about love, while other songs like The Mall and Rolling Clouds deal with activities that almost everyone did when they were younger, like riding bikes and going to the mall.

Even though Paul Baribeau's music might be considered "stripped-down" or "bare bones" by some, his easily relatable lyrics and charming vocals make Unbearable more than bearable to listen to.