KEXP Premiere: Nearby – Nearer Still

Local Music, KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry
Photo by Eric Durr

Irene F. Barber has led many musical lives. She's lent her vocals and multi-instrumental talents to various projects in Seattle — from the heavy distortion of Dust Moth to the psych-production of Erik Blood. She's an artist that constantly embraces change, pushing her sonic ventures into varying directions while still constantly hitting the mark. It's an idea she continues forward with her newly birthed solo career. On July 28, she'll release her debut EP, Garden Exercise, under the moniker Nearby through her own tape collective No Genre. Much of the record is steeped in the feeling of transitions; the world changing around you and you changing yourself. Transitions aren't always welcoming or easy, as evidenced in her latest single, "Nearer Still."

"I wrote [Garden Exercise] back in the fall of 2014 when my relationship with my mother was noticeably growing and changing," Barber tells KEXP. "'Nearer Still' is a glimpse into that experience, and about devotion in the midst of changes."

The concept of change and transitions is felt immediately in the song, before she even sings a word. The chiming guitars build, gradually adding in spacey synth-leads and boom-bap drum samples. Suddenly the guitars cuts out for a brief moment, letting Barber make her vocal entrance, singing, "When I lose my voice, when I reach out to you, going deeper. " She feels steady, keeping her voice low, before rising with the instrumentation for the bright and anthemic chorus. It's a song about persistence; pushing through the grief and anguish and being a steady rock amidst all the change.

Barber will host a formal release party for Garden Exercise on July 28 at Conor Byrne with Hotels. You can keep up with Barber's future happening on her website or her Twitter account.

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