It's hard not to feel as though Jill Barber's follow-up to 04's Oh Heart EP is the Halifax singer/songwriter's You Were Here. Like Sarah Harmer's big breakout, For All Time is modest but powerful. It's made up of carefully crafted songs about tiny tragedies and triumphs that stick with you because of thoughtful writing and arrangements that draw attention away from themselves and toward Barber's versatile voice. She's a clever songwriter, but not overly so, playfully contrasting the faux Catholic imagery on the ragtime When I'm Making Love To You with its rumpled-sheet setting and carrying her metaphorical musings about love and loss through the narratives of each tune. The band here, A-listers from the Parkdale/ Blue Rodeo roots scene, could kick Norah Jones's band's collective arse, gliding between the organ-driven country-soul and jazz with ease. Best of all are moments where Barber catches you off guard, as with the percussion-driven near-scatting of Hard Line.
Barber launches her disc at the Drake tonight (Thursday, October 5).