As stunning a recording debut as any Americana release in recent memory, "The Great Escape" is the fully-realized first album by captivating Grand Marais, MN multi-instrumentalist Barbara Jean. Featuring ten original compositions, Barbara Jean plays banjo, viola, and violin while singing her way through the center of heartache and change into the bright light of new beginnings. Produced by Bernie Larsen (El Rayo X, David Lindley) and recorded and engineered by Tom Fabjance (Low, Haley Bonar, Smashing Pumpkins) at the beautiful Sacred Heart Studios during a chilly Duluth winter, "The Great Escape" shines with all the softness, subtlety, and richness of a poignant songwriter at the outset of what promises to be a fabulous career.
Steeped in the waters of Lake Superior these songs deftly combine rich imagery from Barbara Jean’s rugged North Shore home with difficult choices poised in matters of the heart. From start to finish she delivers her narrative with skilled musicianship and a powerful yet vulnerable tone. From the title track ("The Great Escape") so full of longing, to songs of celebration and release ("Keep It Rockin", "Not What You Thought"), the record moves as a cohesive unit with honesty, compassion, and a burning desire to be understood. From dark, brooding contemplations like "Flesh and Bones" to the hopeful pop sensibility found in "Joy", the record brims with understated beauty and genuine song craft. Featuring stellar contributions from Larsen (guitars, bass, drums & backing vocals), Andy Dee (Blue Canvas Orchestra) on steel and slide guitar, David Huckfelt (The Pines) on finger-style guitar, and Boyd Blomberg (The Gooneybirds), "The Great Escape" lands somewhere between the early Appalachian roots of American country music and the best of the rising crop of indie-folk songwriters breathing new life into tradition.
released October 23, 2012
Recorded at Sacred Heart Recording Studio and The Play Pen
Produced by Bernie Larsen
Engineered and mixed by Tom Fabjance
Mastered by HM Mastering
Artwork and layout by Noah Prinsen
Photo by Melissa Koch
All songs copyright Barbara Jean Music BMI
Lyrics, booking, contact info at:
Barbara Jean: vocals, banjo, fiddle, viola, handclaps
Bernie Larsen: drums, bass, backing vocals, wurlitzer, hammond organ, piano, percussion, acoustic guitar 1, 3, 4, 5-10
Andy Dee: pedal steel, ukulele, dobro, weissenborn
Boyd Blomberg: acoustic guitar 1-3, 6-8
David Huckfelt: fingerstyle guitar on Joy
Tom Fabjance: handclaps
Thank you to Tom Fabjance, Bernie Larsen, Andy Dee, Boyd Blomberg, David Huckfelt, Crystal Brinkman, Adam Hansen, Tim Nelson, Eric Swanson, Katy and Bob Meyers, Marinos and Sarah Glitsos, Stephan Hoglund Photography, Noah Prinsen, Noah Siegler, Sacred Heart Recording Studio, The Play Pen, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Spinout Records, Stagenorth, Melissa Koch, Kelly Schoenfelder, Rob and Mary Meyers, Anne and Scott Pollock, The Playlist, and The Park Point Carriage House. Barbara Jean is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of a Career Development grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, which is funded in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and The McKinght Foundation.