The Barbers You Know How It Is (Grace)
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., Dec. 3, 1999
You Know How It Is (Grace)In the songs of the Barbers is that magical and tough-to-find combination of poetry, humor, and musicianship that brings the sensibilities of the songwriter (usually Lee Barber) to the fore, turning to neither megalomania nor novelty. The album starts off with a "this job sucks" song, but this ain't Johnny Paycheck. Barber's lyrics berate the agony of the normal work life and all its sinister implications on the creative mind, mixing poignant observations with memorable images and a sense of dread that's immediately identifiable. Elaine Barber, who plays harp (the big one with strings) and sings, likewise addresses her suburban origins in "Suburbs," a tune that spells out the frustrations and dreams that go buried in the cultural void. In fact, nearly every song on You Know How It Is is this memorable, from the down and dirty "Killed by Love" to Ana Egge's gorgeous "Mile Marker" to the Bo Diddley stomp of "Come On!" Having solidified a band lineup with Charlie Larkey on bass and Jon Greene on drums, the Barbers will get their due. They're too good not to.