Released as a “companion” to her recent Modern Cool record, this live 7-song disc will hopefully open more ears to the spellbinding sound of vocalist/keyboardist Patricia Barber. Recorded at Chicago’s Green Mill (Al Capone’s old haunt), Barber and band create mysterious, moody, vibrant music. Music that can’t be defined by old labels. Her version of “The Beat Goes On” strips the pop varnish from the Sonny Bono tune, instead transforming it into a touch of voodoo madness. Bill Withers’ “Use Me” follows in the same vein, and a first time listener will think “Aha!,” she’s another (but better) Krall. Then
“Like JT” bops in, and Barber’s B-3 organ and guitarist John McLean mesh into something near Weather Report-level fusion that ensures
Barber of continued employment should she ever lose her voice. Not quite jazz, with a sprinkling of rock, soul and a little bit of everything else, this is music that invites accolades such as
“incredible” or “chilling.” Truly original, haunting music that ends with a version of “Black Magic Woman” that is so fresh and good that you don’t even mind hearing the song again. Bassist Michael Arnopol shines throughout with snaky, inventive acoustic bass lines that support and propel this music to a higher level. McLean on guitar simply astounds — rippling runs ala West Montgomery, echoed comping in a Jerry Garcia mode along with post-rock controlled noise that is so in tune with Barber’s voice that they sound like twins. No matter what sort of music you might currently be “into,” check out Patricia Barber — this is why we have ears.