Even if one was unfamiliar with the name Brad Barr, it would only take a single spin of the self-titled debut from The Barr Brothers (pick it up here) to understand what a devastatingly inventive, emotionally rich guitarist he is. Barr is captivating from the Bill Frisell-esque tone poetry of “Beggar In The Morning” through acoustic work that shows more than a passing familiarity with Fahey and the American Primitives, on to jagged-edged jolters “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying” and “Give The Devil Back His Heart,” which evoke a foundational blues that speaks simultaneously of Africa and its American descendent – all this and more on just one album in a career full of such gifts. Even when raging, Barr doesn’t charge into the foreground very often, preferring to serve each song with a profound listener’s heart, his playing deft and intuitive, a pleasure and a surprise even on repeat listens. His resistance to Jeff Beck style showboating disguises the depth of his technical artistry, but Barr is no less worthy of a Guitar Player cover story. Like most things in The Barr Brothers (and adjacent projects Surprise Me Mr. Davis and The Slip), there’s some sleight of hand where magic is kept intact by a careful practitioner’s dexterous hands, except this is no mere trickery or illusion and thus all the more satisfying for those bearing witness. Barr is a charmer within shadows, an innovator, and sometimes a provocateur, a player who is never lazy or predictable but also far less elusive than most guitarists operating at his level, his instrument reaching out from its mysteries to spin one around with deft flick of the wrist and flutter of graceful fingers.
We’ve been hoping to add Brad to the list of Shredders who’ve graced the Impound for a while and offer our thanks to him for taking time to share a slice of his mind.