“I wonder if I could come back as a song
Live in a melody that would linger on and on
I’d make my home inside a folk record sleeve
Dylan’s ‘Freewheelin’ from nineteen sixty three
So you could play me when you’re feeling down
I would wrap you up inside my happy sound
Riding on the airwaves I would fly to you
Maybe then you’d love me too…
if I came back as a song”
– Barnaby Bright, “If I Came Back As A Song”
The duo Barnaby Bright takes their name from a medieval reference to the feast of St. Barnabas, which is celebrated during the summer solstice: “Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright, the longest day, the shortest night.” Despite their initial misgivings, it turned out to be the perfect moniker for a band that always maintains a sense of hope even when exploring darker themes.
Becky and Nathan Bliss also embody this duality, both within and among themselves. They can turn (seemingly) effortlessly from a traditional folk tune complete with harmonium to a song accompanied only by loops created on the fly. It’s a testament to the authentic through-line of their work that there’s nothing jarring in the swing between ancient chants and completely digitized pop.
There’s always something a little different about a band comprising people who’ve locked both their professional and personal lives together. You feel like you get a deeper glimpse into that connection in a way most of us don’t share with the world – and honestly, not always with each other. All the history and struggles are on display, all the fears and insecurities, along with the joy and affection and peace. Every performer is brave, but the vulnerability shown by couples willing to open their lives up to the public is a particular form of inspiring.
Of course, Becky and Nathan avoid overwhelming the audience with their adorable romance by sprinkling in a generous helping of break-up songs.
I think my favorite part of Becky and Nathan’s story isn’t just how their backgrounds in opera and jazz composition respectively brought them unexpectedly to the folk world, but how they continue to explore and define their own place within it. The very concept of folk is that it’s of the people and I love when it’s as uniquely individual as the people playing it. Barnaby Bright shows just how beautiful being different can be.
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