Sunday, 27 November 2016

Jeannine Barry – Bittersweet (EP) Review

Digital Release Date: 5 Nov 2016
Time: 15:14

Chart Success: #3 iTunes UK Country Album peak (#222 UK all genres)

Bittersweet / Burning Bridges/ Shake You Off/ Holding On

London based country singer-songwriter Jeannine Barry’s musical journey began around 2008 when she started writing songs to existing beats. She comes from a musical family, her uncle John Barry being a musician and her brother and sister have a love of music. Whilst Jeannine was living in Berlin she met American vocal coach and TV presenter David Lee Brewer (Beyoncé Knowles, Letoya Luckett and many more). It was he who identified and suggested she should take her path down the “country” road. She made a connection with producer Denis Gadjetic who also played all the instruments and recorded a Christian & Gospel/ Country EP in 2012 at Gadget Studios in Farringdon. The result was the 5-track GIVE ME SOMETHING (Amazon UK) which finally surfaced on Oct 31, 2013. Tracks such as “Mind Games” marked early promising signs.
In February 2015 she released a noteworthy fun loving debut single “All Night” (Amazon UK | UK iTunes) which displayed much growth, pushing herself vocally, with a tighter, more exciting and polished sound.

Despite the stunning portrait cover shot sadly it seemed to go under the radar but Maverick Magazine picked up on her music running a full page advert (Facebook) in their May/June 2015 issue declaring: “2015 is the year country/pop sensation Jeannine Barry will explode on the scene

A few months later this evidence materialized with the release of 6 track EP OFF THE HOOK (UK iTunes | CD BABY | Google Play) which dropped July 3, 2015. This was recorded and produced in Nashville by Mark Moseley at Java Jive studios.
It contained the exciting tension-filled and gritty title cut, face paced “Lonely Road”, the rocky danceable “Carousel” with its driving beat, “Undeniable” oozed love vibes and featured standout and highly catchy feel good “Long Hot Summer”.

She was winning over new fans at the C2C Country to Country Festival in 2015 on the Town Square Stage Pop Up Stage and was upgraded to the 1,000 capacity Brooklyn Bowl for C2C2016 performing over 2 days when she sent delighted fans away happy after a fabulous 30-minute set with her terrific band showcasing many Off The Hook tracks. It proved that she could connect with her audience, highlighted her versatility, both rocking it out but then at a flick slowed things with heartbreak shiny new number "Burning Bridges". She impressed the C2C Country To Country Festival organizers who turned to her again when she was invited to the C2C 2017 launch party to perform with a full band on October 24th.

On 14 July, 2016 she launched a new and flexible crowdfunding Pledge Music Project to help with the EP production and manufacture costs. It was successfully funded by 121 loyal JB Pledgers who raised 106% of an unknown goal. Jeannine’s fan base has grown to approaching 7,000 on Facebook and 36.9K Twitter followers!
Launching the project she declared – “I Want To Be Truly Who I Am” and her Facebook profile made a statement that the new EP would show Jeannine in a completely new light -  Lyrically demonstrating her ability to express feelings through music these new songs will sweep you away. Fans were teased that they would be “wowed by beautiful, mellow sounds and authentic, vulnerable, yet powerful vocals, guaranteed to make your heart flip”!.

Jeannine officially launched the new 4 track EP BITTERSWEET on Nov 25, 2016 to coincide with her Birthday weekend, what better way to celebrate!

For this EP, she turned to the UK country artists go-to producer Justin Johnson (Website; Parr Street Studios, Liverpool) who was honoured at this year’s British Country Music Awards for Musician of the Year having been previously nominated in 2015. 

Justin has recorded albums and singles with British acts Raintown, Thorne Hill, Sam Hollyman, Mike Ward, The Blue Genes, Samantha Lloyd, Dahlia, Narn (Rheana Forrester), Jade Helliwell, Darcy, Emma Moore, Southern Junction, Angie King, Acoustic Journey and Hollie Barrie (from The Voice UK).

Studio musicians probably include frequent Parr Street session players Scott Poley (electric guitar & steel), James Jayawardena (piano & B3), Simon Goulding (bass), Robbie Cavanagh and Laura Oakes (Backing vocals) and Justin Johnson (drums). 
With so many recordings coming out of this Liverpool stable the styles, guitar & steel riffs and bass runs have become instantly recognizable creating something of a solid trademark country sound.

The EP kicks off with the slow paced and beautiful soulful title cut Bittersweet full of honest and heartfelt emotion following a painful break. The number is underscored by a purring organ, deep bass and sweetened by harmonies. Co-written with Robbie Cavanagh this open and sparse arrangement allows Barry to dig deep, open her heart and depicts her messy and mixed up vulnerabilities with its soul-searching vibes. The official video has aired on the Keep It Country TV channel (Sky/ Freesat):

The gentle Burning Bridges, which is certainly an EP highlight, portrays a world where the protagonist has much love to give but is left brokenhearted by the void. A wafting steel flows over a song with raw human emotion and sensibilities and a fabulous crunchy guitar solo underpins the angst: Firing bullets at my heart, I know it’s all about forgiveness, But I don’t even know where to start, These walls are coming in on me, Pushing me harder to the ground

The mid-tempo Shake You Off was written in Nashville with talented Essex and British songstress Lisa Wright. It tells of moving on after promises are hollow and unfulfilled, reaching for better horizons in the love merry go round: And so I run, Step by step until I shake you off

The questioning Holding On comes from a dark place with its eerie and haunting sound with a just a plaintive strummed acoustic guitar and bass chords again showing Jeannine in an uncompromising but honest dusky corner laying her country soul bare.
At  just a 15 minutes playing time this 4-track offering should make fans hungry for more music from this delightful and beautiful young lady in 2017. She's indeed a credit to the British country music scene.

We communicated with Jeannine via email to find out more on the background to the Bittersweet project

Was the Pledge Music project quite a stressful experience with a target date to meet?
At times it definitely was, but it’s so worth it when it works out in the end!

What was the most rewarding and challenging (if any) of the recording experience?
Well, I was still stuck between a couple of songs and deciding which one to put on was the hardest for me. 

Now that the physical CD pledges have been fulfilled is the only place a JB fan can now obtain hardcopy is at your gigs?
 The pledge campaign is currently still open as not all pledges have been fulfilled yet so until then you can still get a copy on there otherwise that’s correct. Once it’s closed you can only get one at a show.

Does the physical EP come with a small booklet and all the lyrics?
It comes in a cardboard wallet and has not booklet, no.

Are the songs observational or do they come from within?
They all come from within. They were all born out of personal experiences. 

Which song is self-penned and who are the co-writers?
I wrote Burning Bridges on my own on my bedroom floor. I wrote Shake You Off with the wonderful Lisa Wright when we met in Nashville. Holding On I wrote with Justin Johnson and Bittersweet with Robbie Cavanagh. 

How long did it take to cut the tracks? 
We recorded over two days. The musicians did their thing one day over a few hours and I recorded the vocals in about 4 hours the day after. 

I think Laura Oakes has been employed as a harmony singer. Who are the harmony singles on the EP?
Yes, Laura sang harmonies on all songs and my sister Georgia Barry also sang on Holding On

Any plans to release "Burning Bridges" as a radio edit. 
That is definitely something to look at although I am working on something else right now and might hold off with that till later.

You have gained some fresh exposure with BBC radio plays, appearing on Keep It Country TV, playing The Brooklyn Bowl twice at C2C2016 and the launch night for C2C2017. What has been the musical highlight of your year?
I would say that the launch night gig was certainly a highlight. Recording the new EP and working on my music every single day is what charges me and makes me happy. Having such a great band who are so passionate about playing music and seeing my fan base grow is exciting and wonderful as well. 

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
 Well, I have some very exciting news for 2017 which I can’t announce just yet I’m afraid. I have a lot to look forward to in 2017.
I am working on exciting projects and am planning to be out there quite a bit and to continue to build on this. 

If you were to be compared to a mainstream US country act who would it be?
I’ve heard the comparison to Carrie Underwood quite a lot J

CONNECT with Jeannine Barry:
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