In 2014, working with producer and arranger, Simon Wallace, Barb released Hard Rain, laying herself bare to their political and philosophical songs.
Now, however, it’s time for love: “As I head towards another, even later decade than the one I’m in, there is only one thing that concerns me. How to love more and with more freedom. How to love everyone and everything. How to be free of all the pettiness of life and elevate to the beauty and purity of love.”
Dylan and Cohen are a great place to turn: “They come at politics from very different perspectives in some ways, but when you look at what is similar, it is their ability to look at the world, and I think that that is true of their love songs as well.
“They are both romantics. They are both men that write about love at different points in their lives. I do some of the early songs and I do some of the later songs, and I find that every single song that I sing speaks to my experience even though I am neither of them and I am not a man.
“These songs speak to my own inner being, and their universality is something which is just extraordinary. I just cannot express how much I love their work. Dylan’s romanticism is tinged in Americana and Cohen’s is always person-centred. But they converge. It is like the DNA helix. They weave through like the helix and then they touch each other every so often and you are aware of the similarities.”
Barb is delighted to be back at the Ropetackle where she was involved with their benefit gig earlier this summer: “They struggle on despite everything, and they just manage to make it work. They don’t have any money, but somehow with the skill and the love of the people that support them and work there, they manage to make it all work.”
But the fact that Barb is now gigging again doesn’t remotely mean she is reassured about the way we are all heading as regards the pandemic: “I think it is going to be a very, very long haul to whatever the normal is going to be.”
As she says, if you look at the wider picture, an awful lot of venues are still closed, some clearly never to return: “I definitely feel that we are going to be walking uphill in stilettoes for quite some time to come. I don’t think we are dealing with any of the things that might have got us here in the first place. I don’t think we are looking anywhere near enough at the link between environment and the creation of the virus in the wild. The urge to reopen everything is everywhere, including people’s holidays.”
Personally Barb would have loved to have seen money-off incentive vouchers to get people to holiday in this country this year. As she says, she loves Worthing. It was upsetting to see the stall-holders there and so few people...
“The point is that I don’t have any faith in the people that are running the country, that frankly they couldn’t run a church bazaar and if they did, they would put the wrong church on the poster and the wrong day. I am far less gloomy about ordinary people that just want to get on with things, but it is the questions that are being created by politics and geopolitics and finances that are not being answered.”