Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber started out as a guitar-based singer-songwriter, but has since come around to writing and singing original material in a traditional jazz style. She's currently on her first U.S. tour in support of her latest release, Mischievous Moon; she stops in Pittsburgh this weekend.
One of the things that strikes me about the new album is that it has an old, classic sound.
I have to hand it to my producer, Les Cooper. I've done three albums with him, and the first we did record analog, but we since went digital. I think the musicians aesthetically know how to play to make it sound organic — we do as much as we can live, but there were a lot of overdubs as well.
A singer-songwriter with a guitar faces a certain expectation of "honesty" in her writing; someone with a full band behind her singing more classic-sounding music is generally thought of differently. Has the nature of your writing changed?
Earlier in my career, it was all about me, and that really personal, honest approach to songwriting. These days, I do try to write songs that are bigger than me. It's pompous of me to think this, but every time I write a song, I try to write a song that carries on the tradition of the great standards. I don't want that tradition to die; I love the old standards. But I'm tired of hearing jazz singers sing the same old songs from 50 years ago.