First things first. Can anyone else believe that it's already August? I'm a little thrown by this temporal revelation. Time is not as cut and dried as it would at first seem.
Second, I've just "discovered" Paul Baribeau, and I think I'm in love. Strike that: THIS IS LOVE. He's a male version of Kimya Dawson, who's slightly more neurotic and a little less overwhelmingly uninhibited. He strikes me as the kind of introverted boy who dresses in plaid shirts and writes sonnets to his "Dark Lady" inspired by the many twinkling stars in the Midwestern sky. At the same time, there are songs where Paul is so exuberant, improvisational, and energetic you can't help but be carried away by the sentiment. If you listen to his self-titled album (released in 2004), then you can hear the roughness of emotion like a scratchy beard on "I Thought I Could Find You", "When You Go Back To College", and the beautiful ode to beauty "Strawberry". "Blue Eyes" is about being haunted by the eyes of a person who has peered into your soul only to move across the country, and it hurts when you listen. There's also "I Miss That Band" which is about losing part of your youth to time, but having all the memories preserved on tape (or album/cd) ready to remind you of your loss.
Moving forward in that fourth dimension, you'll find Baribeau's second album Grand Ledge a bit of a departure from the innocence of Paul Baribeau. It's not that his sound is darker, and he certainly doesn't sound bitter or disillusioned to the point of hopelessness; instead, I can hear a ticking clock in the background, a more persistent knowledge that our time on this earth is not infinite. It's a subtle thread in "Christmas Lights" that is amplified by the line: "Sometimes I don't want to make new friends, sometimes I just miss my old friends." The theme is less subtle on "Ten Things" which is a wailing, deep-belly laundry list to ponder. This song reminds me of a good friend who regularly asks for my list of the top five best and worst things in my life. It's a poignant question, and it makes the answering person slow down and separate the good and bad parts of their life into easily digested bites. Sometimes you just have to make a list (and this advice is coming from a person who generally likes to throw plans out the window). "Falling In Love With Your Best Friend" recounts that feeling of falling apart when you're just starting to put things together. The friendship to love transition can be more painful than the head-over-heels effect, because (generally) you don't want to jeopardize a good relationship by forcing it into a different category. Again Baribeau hits his mark, and translates raw emotion into song. "Things I Wish" is a sweet song that gains a fantastic quality when Baribeau spontaneously breaks into "lalalas".
I guess spontaneity is really the buzzword for the Paul Baribeau sound. He seems like the kind of guy who might get nervous in front of a crowd, but for the love of music he continues to perform and eventually goes beyond caring about his audience's perceptions. It's all about the truth of the moment, and in this way Baribeau succeeds in bottling emotions that are tangible and honest. Music like this is very difficult to find, and should be savored when a "discovery" like Baribeau is made.
Ten Things (LIVE)