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32 Reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Gem of a Double Album, 7 Jan. 2014
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Take one Australian lass, transplant her to England, add three English lasses, and you have Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo. My first exposure to the band was through the Wallander series on PBS. The utterly haunting theme music is the song "Nostalgia" from the band's first album Despite the Snow.

Since learning of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, I have explored and immersed myself through their entire catalog of music. Their sound and style would be best and loosely described as folk, and there are hints and glimpses of numerous genres including bluegrass, madrigal, etc. Their first three albums are entirely acoustic instrumentation, and Despite the Snow was even recorded in 16th century barn in England!

Dear River is their fourth studio album, and was released in July 2013. With this album, the sounds and atmospheres explored by the band continue to grow, and some electric instrumentation is introduced for the first time. The band ventures into a slightly more modern sound infused with folk, rock and pop influences. The album's thoughtful lyrics follow earthy themes throughout the album, such as a water, land, blood, etc.

The album opens with the title track and a subtle introductory guitar riff with catchy back beats. It is followed by the peppy and string laden "Tuesday," and the slow and retrospective choral "Letters." The toe tapping ballad "The Leaving" leads into the subtle electric guitar of the peppy "Everywhen." The stripped down ballad "Sleeping Horses" introduces the album's folk-rock gem, "The Ghost Narrative." This is followed by country picking sound of "A Spadeful of Ground." The album then treats you to the slow and sweet sounds of "The Cormorant and the Heron" and retrospective "In the Winter I Returned." The album closes with the optimistic folk ballad "The Blackwood."

After being used to the all acoustic instrumentation of the first three albums, I will readily admit that I was initially resistant to the introduction of some minor electric instrumentation upon the first listen. This resistance of mine was utterly foolish and unfounded, as it more than complements the style and atmosphere of the songs, and "The Ghost Narrative" is now among my favorites tracks from the band.

The band also did something very unique with this album, where the listener can get the best of both worlds. They released a "Deluxe Edition" of the album which contains a second CD, called "The Dog House Sessions." It is a version of the entire album recorded on acoustic instruments. Emily is quoted as saying "we wanted to have a record of how the songs sounded in this bare acoustic form, similar to how we recorded Despite The Snow. So earlier this year we went into The Dog House studios near Henley-on-Thames and recorded all eleven songs live in one day."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Sound, 29 Dec. 2013
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P. Kane (UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought both the CD (for the car) and the vinyl, but only recently got the chance to listen to the vinyl. My hearing is far from perfect, but even I can appreciate the difference; the vinyl really does sound quite special. It even feels superior - more like the older, fatter, harder LPs from the 50s and 60s (just like me!). A great production of a marvellous album from a first rate group of musicians.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost great, 28 Dec. 2013
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Mr. Richard Moore (WA Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dear River (Audio CD)
I love Emily Barker, I had the good fortune of catching her live in Denmark Western Australia and her then current album Almanac is a favourite in this household. There are still some good songs here but they are rather 'blanded out' by the production (thanks for nothing Linn Records!) I read that this album came with a live acoustic version but my vinyl copy didn't have this; a shame.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Emily Barker, 17 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Dear River (Audio CD)
I saw her live at a Folk by the Oak Festival, and she stood out of the crowd even then, despite being a lower down support act.
This is a lovely album, that does not fail to please.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing record, 6 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Dear River (Audio CD)
Easily my favourite album of 2013. Emily is the most underrated female folk singer both down under and up above.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great CD from a great band, 26 Nov. 2013
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MRS A L MASON (Horley, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dear River (MP3 Download)
Great CD from a great band. Seen them live recently and had a wonderful evening, can't recommend this highly enough!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just a Brilliant Album, 26 Nov. 2013
Having just seen Emily and the Red Clay Halo on their recent tour it was the first time I had heard most of the material and it wasn't disappointing, hearing the story behind some of the tracks just adds more to the whole experience. Letters is a particular favourite and you can't help but be moved by it all. Absolutely totally recommend this album, and can't wait for them to tour again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 21 Oct. 2013
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Beautifully crafted lyrics and Emily's voice is so pure it sends shivers down my spine. A lovely album from a talented bunch of musicians!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stands out in crowd of female singers, 27 Sept. 2013
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Archie mallis "dan 1990" (scotland u.k.) - See all my reviews
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Heard one of the tracks on a free sample and bought the c.d. and have enjoyed the playing and strong back up vocals from the Red Clay Halo looking forward to see her live this year
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5.0 out of 5 stars De-lux version, 16 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Dear River (Audio CD)
Must admit bought it from a private supplier who was selling the de-lux version. Love both CD's but I have to say I prefer the acoustic bonus album to the main event. Must be my age. Either way an excellent purchase.
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Dear River
Dear River by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo (Audio CD - 2013)
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