Mischievous melodies at ACT

Jill Barber stops in Maple Ridge on a cross-country tour to
promote her new album

Jill Barber plays the ACT in Maple Ridge on Sunday

Jill Barber plays the ACT in Maple Ridge on Sunday

If you don’t yet know of Canadian classical jazz singer Jill Barber, you will. Actually, you must.

Some north Fraser Valley music enthusiasts already got a sweet taste of her exquisite, sultry vocal stylings when she steamed up the room while teaming with her singer-songwriter brother, Matthew, for the marquee performance at the recent Port Moody Festival of the Arts.

More will get the chance when she and her five-piece band takes the stage on Sunday at The ACT in Maple Ridge for Jill Barber: An Intimate Holiday Special.

The stop will be Barber’s 36th of 38 dates on her cross-Canada tour –– the largest yet for the transplanted Torontonian and, later, Nova Scotian who now calls Vancouver home.

And while playing with her Ontario-based brother in PoMo was a special and now-rare event as their hectic work calendars seldom jive being thousands of miles apart, Barber said performing her own songs with her talented, tight-knit band is also a phenomenal experience in which they revel in engaging the audience to the point they make the viewers feel they’re truly an integral part of the show.

“We have a lot of time to tweak it and make it the best it can possibly be,” Barber said Friday on the phone from her most recent tour stop, Prince Rupert.

“It’s amazing to be up their on stage… making it a very special, magical and memorable experience. It’s all about intimacy.”

Just 31 years old, Barber is an already well-decorated, accomplished artist, having been nominated for a Juno Award in 2008 as New Artist of the Year for her album Chances –– the fifth she’s produced.

Her latest release Mischievous Moon is more intimate, its writing process enriched by an artist residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the Canadian Rockies.

From her humble beginnings as a shy acoustic folk singer on home-town coffee-house stages, Barber has risen to far greater heights while influenced heavily by great ladies of song like Ella Fitzgerald and Edith Piaf.

“Everybody always remarked to me that my voice sounds like it’s from another era and I always felt a nostalgia for music,” said Barber, whose smoky-voiced blasts to the past include ‘Oh My My,’ in which she aches over utter heartbreak and captivates her internet audience with a video set in 1950s decor.

Barber has also begun to cross language barriers, inspired by her growing French-speaking fan base and a recent month-long visit to the south of France, where she enrolled in French immersion school. In fact, the first single on Mischievous Moon – ‘Dis-Moi/Tell Me’ – is released in both languages.

“I love the French language and French culture,” said Barber, who doesn’t rule out the possibility of one day producing a disc entirely in French. “It’s the language of love.”

• Jill Barber plays the ACT in Maple Ridge on Sunday, Dec. 4. For tickets, visit theactmapleridge.org or call 604-476-2787.

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