If you want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, head down to the National Arts Centre to hear Jill Barber’s romantic tunes.
Recently returned from a gig in Paris, the East Coast-born singer shared advice on matters of the heart and chatted about her new classical jazz album. Mischievous Moon has launched her out of the coffeehouse scene to a whole new level.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the moon, its cycles and the mysterious effects it has on us,” says Barber, who describes herself as a “hopeful” romantic.
“Not helpless” — an important difference, she notes. “The most attractive quality in women is confidence,” she says, explaining that her own journey in the music industry has made her stronger but has also fostered “a willingness to try something and fail.”
Barber may have more than a little Edith Piaf in her. In fact, she went through intensive French-immersion training so she could connect with her French-Canadian audience. “It was their encouragement and support that first inspired me to learn,” she says.
Barber’s lyrics in both French and English are thoughtful and surprisingly intimate. The sweeping strings and sophisticated orchestration are perfect for either a Mad Men-themed lounge party or a post-break-up cry.
She explains, “You certainly don’t have to be in love to relate to my music, but you have to have a capacity for love.”
Barber admits to being nostalgic for another era. “When I listen to classic-era recordings, I think of a dreamier, more swingin’ era when people actually dressed up, romance was alive and drinks were always flowing.”
She suggests people may get a little love tipsy from the music alone. Her song “Steal Away” echoes this sentiment: “If killing time was a crime, darling, you and I would be busy selling time.”
“It is the ultimate privilege as an artist to be the soundtrack to someone else’s love story,” she says. “I’m thrilled that the queer community is embracing my music.”
Her love advice for cupids: “I’ve never seen anyone balk at receiving flowers on Valentine’s Day.”
National Arts Centre
Fri, Feb 10 & Sat, Feb 11