Del Barber knows how to bring a character fully to life with the simplest of lines. It’s so effortless it almost seems like magic.
“I’m counting sticky cup holder quarters for a coffee,” he sings, almost absent-mindedly, as he explains how he forgot his wallet “in a rush for no good reason." Except you immediately know there was a good reason for forgetting it and that it’s in these tiny turns of phrase that Del Barber has always buried his deep truths about the human condition.
‘I Told You So’ is the stunning second single from Barber's newly announced eighth album Almanac. It’s a song about how grief and sorrow can magnify the smallest things in someone’s life and how little everyday moments can suddenly feel so insurmountable when someone is missing from them; it’s about how people embed meanings and memories into things, only to leave those memories and meanings behind in those things after they’ve gone, to live on in them without them there.
“It’s a song about grief,” Barber told us. “I wrote it before my dad passed, before he was even sick. But it became an anthem for me in the months after his passing. Looking back, I feel like this song was a gift from him.”
Despite being such a personal song to him now, Del Barber told us it didn’t start out being about his father at all: “It was originally written from the perspective of a neighbour of mine who lost her husband. They were a great team. They had land and a nice string of horses. Despite the fact that she was capable, strong and independent, he left a hole in her life that was and is impossible to fill. Life can change quick. She catches herself talking to him. She's in town doing errands, and realizes how funny he would have found it that she drove all the way to town from the farm only to have forgotten her wallet. This is the scene when she realizes just how different it was going to be, and feels the weight of his passing."
'I Told You So' is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
Like John Prine or Guy Clark, there is something undeniable about the gentle power of Barber’s lyrics when he sets them to his softly picked country-folk. He doesn’t wield them from some great height with elaborate showy swings; his words devastate you in more unsuspecting ways, like little whispers that are capable of reaching all the way into your heart and bringing the whole world tumbling down around you.
Residing in the small town of Inglis, Manitoba, the Canadian singer-songwriter has shaped the folk music canon in Canada over the course of seven albums and has been nominated for JUNO Awards, Western Canadian Music Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards over the years.
Almanac is released on April 28th via Acronym Records.