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Arts & Culture

Jill Barber Goes Pop, Minus Some Sweetness

Jill Barber's new album <em>Metaphora</em> means "to transfer meaning" in Greek. "It captures a lot of what this album is about, which is my experience in the world as a woman," she says.
Jill Barber's new album <em>Metaphora</em> means "to transfer meaning" in Greek. "It captures a lot of what this album is about, which is my experience in the world as a woman," she says.

On NPR in 2012, Jill Barber called herself "Canada's Sweetheart." And even though her new album Metaphora,out now, doesn't conjure up the same sugary connotations as her previous works, she says the sweetheart title still holds true. "This record's maybe a little less sweet, but I hope it still reaches people in their heart," she says.

Though Barber is known in the genres of folk and jazz, Metaphorafinds the singer exploring a pop sound andemphasizing the role of women in present times.

"The original Greek meaning of it meant literally to bear meaning, to transfer meaning," Barber says of the album's title. "And I actually felt that was quite a feminine quality to bear. It captures a lot of what this album is about, which is my experience in the world as a woman."

Jill Barber, <em>Metaphora</em>
/ Outside Music
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Jill Barber, <em>Metaphora</em>

The first track on the album, fittingly titled "The Woman," narrates the pressure women face to be many different things to different people all at once. She sings from the point of view of both a mother and a woman navigating the music industry.

"In an industry that is still very much dominated by men, I have to give up playing the game that I used to think I had to play, and now, think I can re-write my own rules," she says. "I've had to work way harder to be paid what I'm worth and I feel like I've had to be really, reallynice to some people that took advantage of that."

Barber's song "Bigger Than You" is her #MeToo moment. She hopes it will give other women the "courage to not be bullied" by those who wield power.

"I wrote this song in an afternoon but I would say it took me about 12 years to find the courage to write it," she explains. "It's a song specifically about an experience I had with a more powerful man in my industry that was highly manipulative and threw his power around in a way that could have hurt me and probably did hurt others. I felt I was ready to chime in with my own voice."

Barber talks to NPR's Scott Simon about re-defining her voice in the industry, growing up in her music and more. Hear their full conversation at the audio link.

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