Listening to Lesley Barth’s new album Green Hearts is akin to opening a window on the first day of spring after a long and cold winter. Barth breathes life into material that is personal and heartfelt giving her audience an intimate portrayal of the singer behind the songs.
The LP opens with a very short introduction tune “When you are Lonely.” And even though it is only just over the one minute mark it is without a doubt one of the finest pieces of music Barth has created and released to the public. Soulful, almost gospel-like, Barth wastes no time in showcasing her talents and playing to her strengths. Focused mainly on Barth’s vocals, with an echoed and layered effect placed on it, this tune shows that she doesn’t need much instrumentation to sell a song. In fact this bare bones skeleton approach is part of what makes this particular track so memorable. Barth’s voice is low and smooth, something in the range of Zooey Deschanel, and when you combine that factor with lyrics such as “when you’ve got heartache sometimes the only thing to do is remember all that you can control is you,” the results are stunning, mournful, and hopeful at the same time.
“Bad With You” once again sees Barth putting the satin finish on a smooth sailing song that rolls along at a midtempo pace. Piano based, with a staccato movement at certain parts of the song makes it dynamic and far from a standard ballad. Barth’s voice sounds like something out of the past, strong and vulnerable at the same time, but with a unique quality that is not often heard in the current popular musical landscape. She has that Karen Carpenter vibe going for her, not just in her voice but in the content of her songs as well. “It makes me a sad little lady when you won’t let me be bad,” Barth cries with honest emotion, and while this song does have some edge to it, it is also pure and glorious with heavenly background vocals which all help to build up to Barth belting out the repeating main phrase in a new and commanding way. Make no mistake, Barth is a star, center stage, and she is using her platform to give it her all, and “Bad with You,” is only one of the stops one needs to take on their musical journey of the album to see that she is not only in the game, but is here to be the MVP.
Near the end of the LP Barth shows that she is saving a few tricks up her sleeve. “You Came Too Late” is a piano driven ballad that is slowburning and second by second pulls you more into the story that Barth weaves. It has already been proven countless times on the album that above anything else Barth is a storyteller, but here on this quiet number Barth lays her soul on the line, her heart bleeding with every note she sings. “Its cruel how life makes you wait,” she sings in the single most crushing moment of truth on the entire album. The tune definitely has a throwback vibe to it, old fashioned and making no apologies for it. “I thought I knew, then there was you,” Barth opens the track with, a lyric that many listeners will be able to connect to. Yes, this is a tune about a lover but in so many ways it is about so much more in the grand scheme of things. Composed and produced with care and earnestly, if there is one song to check out on the album this is it.
Elsewhere on the LP some tunes don’t measure up to the rest of the ambitious and heartfelt tracks. “Song Without a Name” is a bit underwhelming despite its strong visual lyrics and “Elaine” lacks much of a melody, but even when a song isn’t on the same level as others there are still positives to be found.
Run and grab your copy of Green Hearts when it comes out. You will not be let down.