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Barbara Black - 'Ad Libitum' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f0/25/1b/barbara-black-ad-libitum-7-1520363837.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 06, 2018    
 
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Listening to a record isn't supposed to be hard work – this was a chore.

What we have here is a female-fronted Rock album with Country and Southern flavours that's fronted by the cowboy hat wearing Barbara Black who is in fact from Spain. Boasting some recording experience with a band called Black Rock, she launched herself as a solo artist with an EP in 2014 which paved the way for this debut album.

'The Hill' sets out the stall with a mix of Hard Rock guitars, harmonica and Southern twang. However, there's one major bug-bear, and that is Black herself. Her vocals are tough to connect with. That's not to say she's a bad singer because her pitch and tone aren't bad at all. In fact, it turns out she's actually a classically-trained singer so she's no mug. The problem is with her phrasing. While she concentrates on hitting the right notes, I was seven or eight lines into the song before I realized she was singing in English!

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Once I started really listening hard, I began to hear through the accent and I managed to make out the second line of 'Nice To Meet Me', but the first one remains completely unintelligible to me. It's a shame because the swampy "dobro" vibe was quite good. However, the words and delivery of them are a constant problem. Terrible titles like 'Non Human Person' and 'Love Murders' aside, the meanings behind otherwise quite listenable tracks like 'Ghost' are lost when you can only make out one or two words in ten.
As the album went on, Black's vocals became just another noise or another series of notes that meant it might as well have been an instrumental album. Even on 'Alabama Rose', which is just Barbara Black with an acoustic guitar accompaniment, I still had problems understanding her. As a result, I zoned out every time I put the album on.

Listening to a record isn't supposed to be hard work – this was a chore.

James Gaden

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