The Up to Your Ears (Jusqu'aux Oreilles) Festival presented Laura Barrett and her magical kalimba at the Christ Church Cathedral Friday evening. With a brief, but always wonderful performance, Barrett backed with two other instrumentalists providing sparse layers, treated the audience to her mythical songs. Mythical is a good word to describe Barrett, but so is futuristic. Couched in songs about robot ponies and mechanicistic tomorrows, Barrett still captures the essence of humanity. She sings about the search for identification, about consumerism, about the inevitability of change -- but she does so without malice or a cross side sneer. Barrett is concerned with purpose and meaning, without getting caught up in the self-importance of her personal experience, as so many other singers do. These current and future themes are juxtaposed with Barrett's sweet, song-of-Roland voice and the fairy tale like melodies of her kalimba, turning each song into a kind of timeless folk song.
Barrett is a wonderful performer, with a distinct personality. She is so warm and so open, and at the same time, so unique. She is truly a delight to see perform live.