CD Review: Steph Barrak “Words to Break Your Heart”

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Music
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Steph Barrak is a Boston-based singer-songwriter that takes folk, pop and other styles to create her guitar-based music that can be described as indie-pop. One of the most evident reasons for Barrak for being included in the category indie-pop is her lyrical phrasing. While most of the time she uses a normal style in her writing, sometimes Barrak’s lyrics take on a more free verse feel to them. The nearly free verse feel to the lyrics makes Steph Barrak a unique musician. The style of music created by Barrak would fit alongside artists such as Tori Amos and other artists that can be found in the soft rock/pop genre.
Steph Barrak’s new album Words to Break Your Heart begins with the song “Connecticut”. The first thing you notice when listening to the song is the unusual phrasing of the lyrics of the song for the first minute or so. That first minute of the song contains a folk-like approach to the song. The song then transitions to a folk-rock song and the lyrics take on a more standard feel as the song’s tempo quickens and gives the listener a song that would easily fit with either rock or folk playlists.
Words to Break Your Heart by Steph Barrak continues with the track “Painted Face”. While “Connecticut” has somewhat difficult lyrical phrasing, the song “Painted Face” takes on a much more commercial feel to the lyrics than that of the album’s first track. The song feels a lot more like an indie-pop track than a folk track. The music of the song is very catchy and could easily be the first single off the release.
The Words to Break Your Heart album finds Steph Barrak creating her music with mainly the guitar, bass and drums but with the song “Hardwired,” the song has a much more full-bodied feel as the previously mentioned instruments are joined by violin, trumpet, saxophone and Hammond organ. The additional instruments give the song a much soulful feeling. The track is one of the best songs on the album.
The pace and energy of the music on the album changes with the track “Fossil Tears”. While the track starts with a slightly low-key style, the pace quickens. The song alternates between low-key and a faster pace throughout the 5-minute track. There is a slight country flavor in both the music with the inclusion of the steel guitar and in Steph Barrak’s vocals on the track.
With a vocal and musical style that may remind you of someone like Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell, the song “Oh Lo Lo” is another track on the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak that has a light, easy rock feel that will have you thinking back to the sound of music from the sixties. The lyrics to the song are fun and may have you singing along with Barrak.
The pace of the album once again picks up with the song “Natural Progression”. Like much of the other artists in the folk genre, Steph Barrak explores the pattern of life on this track. The song’s lyrics have to do with what is happening with the weather on the planet. The track is probably the closest thing to straight-out rock music on Words to Break Your Heart.
Words to Break Your Heart comes to an end with the song “Watch for Me”. The track begins with just Barrak and her guitar and then, the song slowly builds to include another guitar and drums. The slightly stronger feeling that comes from the additional instruments really gives the track a folk-rock feel. The words to this track live up to the title of the album.
The Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak takes the listener on a musical trip that runs from folk music to Indie rock and back again. The eleven tracks that make up the 2013 release from Barrak help to give the listener a well-rounded glimpse into the talent of this singer-songwriter.

***** (Out of five)

Find the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak on her Bandcamp account.

Click HERE for the video to Steph Barrak’s song “Painted Face”.

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