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Barker - Album Review: Sleepwalking

04 Jun 2017 // A review by Corinne Rutherford

I am going to get this out of the way from the start, if you type Johnny Barker's name into Google, it will almost likely be linked to “Joey Henderson the Ferndale strangler" or “formally the Ferndale strangler” (let me make this perfectly clear, this is Barker's character he played on Shortland Street from 2007-08, not actually him).

Director of film and TV (including currently Jono and Ben), winner of 2 48 hour short film festivals and actor, did I mention the man of many creative talents from Auckland is also a musician? A darn fine musical artist at that. I enjoyed my Shorty years of viewing Joey the serial killer, but I prefer to have Johnny the musician in my life.

Barker’s debut, full length psychedelic, folk rock album titled Sleepwalking is pretty trippy and almost futuristic; I guess this is where the Sci-Fi feel of the lyrics works in effortlessly with the sound he has been striving towards for many years.

“If red wine had a sound, this is what it’d sound like, because I drank a lot of red wine while making it”. I must admit, I was super excited to find out what red wine sounded like! Is it a full bodied merlot or an herbaceous cab sav?, I was about to find out. Let’s start Sleepwalking.

When you launch into the first track Ceasefire, it has an almost erratic sound, which if I could describe the feeling it gave me would be like a ride on a roller coaster, up and down and around corners at a great speed, then a slow climb before falling again. This is not a bad thing, it may mean that it takes a wee bit of getting used too but after a few rides you don’t want to get off, you are hooked.

It mellows out slightly with Haunted House, I really fancied this one, it became a track which would make its self at home in my mind and refuse to vacate the premises.

To Quote Barker “I decided early on, to write songs as if they were short film scripts”, this has been cleverly demonstrated in tracks 1-8 (with the exception of Dreaming with Fishes, which is instrumental). There is a moody feel of Neo-Noir, twisting its way through the album, incorporating the futuristic, multi-layered Psychedelic sound with very interesting lyrics. Barker has superbly integrated his ability to tell a story with song writing.

Did I figure out what red wine sounded like? Attractive with a chocolate bouquet but fruity finish. Complex yet easy to drink, the more you drink the more you want, kind of addictive and yummy. I recommend you try it.

All songs are performed by Barker with the exception of Spinning Numbers. This album has been four years in the making, self-recorded in France, Avondale and Pt Chevalier and mixed by Simon Gooding. (The Map Room).



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