Over the course of the last 12 years, musician siblings Matthew and Jill Barber have collectively released 14 albums that have earned more than 30 award nominations, including three Juno Awards.
While they have occasionally appeared as guests on the other’s albums, The Family Album, released this past April, marked the first time that the brother and sister team completed a full-fledged, collaborative record together.
Before you begin wondering who or what is to blame for the collaboration taking so long to come to fruition, Jill insists it has nothing more than a matter of timing.
“It has been a combination of a few factors, one being that our respective album cycles have aligned, making it difficult to be in a position to have made The Family Album much before we did,” Jill says in advance of the sibling’s show at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre on Thursday night.
As the siblings plotted their respective next moves following the 2014 release of her acclaimed record Fool’s Gold and Matthew’s 2011 self-titled album, Jill approached Matthew with the idea of finally making a record together.
“I’ve always wanted to make a record with him. It just felt that now was the right time for both of us,” Jill says. “In the music business, you need to constantly be working and plotting your next move. Both Matthew and I have been so focused on our solo careers for so long, it felt as though we’ve earned the privilege to experiment with different types of projects. I think each of us feel as though we have less to prove at this particular point. The Family Album reflects the idea that we are each really comfortable with who we are and where we are at with respect to our careers.”
Comprised of five original songs and six tasteful, reimagined covers from artists including Neil Young (“Comes A Time”), Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” Gene MacLellan, and Ian Tyson (“Summer Wages”), Jill says the decision to prominently feature the material of some of their favourite songwriters stemmed from a simple desire to do something aside from what might be expected from the pair.
“As songwriters, we have each released a number of original albums. When it came to collaborating on an album together, though, we both felt we wanted to try something a little different. We wanted to pay tribute to the songwriters that came before us and inspired each of us to become songwriters,” she says.
“At the end of the day, the only criteria concerning the cover songs were that they were ones we loved to sing together.”
With just a handful of concert dates on the books for 2016 for the duo, Jill is optimistic that this won’t be the last time that she and Matthew team up for a record, but confirms that each of them currently have their sights set on their next solo projects.
Jill jokes that like any good family reunion, sometimes the time apart makes you appreciate the time together a little more.
“I love my brother and love sharing the stage with him, but I think that each of us are looking forward to getting back to working on our own projects. It has been a lot of fun to share the responsibility of releasing a record and putting on a live show together. The experience is nothing I would trade; I’m actually looking forward to doing it again someday. I think it’s also safe to say, however, that we are each looking forward to being back in charge,” she says with a laugh.
What: Matthew Barber & Jill Barber
When: Thursday Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Imperial Theatre, 12 King Square South, Saint John
Tickets are $32 for subscribers, $36 for others. Advance tickets are available at the Imperial Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 674-4100 and online at imperialtheatre.nb.ca