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Barefoot - Barefoot

Barefoot

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

LIKE Paul Anka’s Rock Swings album last year, which successfully put a big band sound on cover versions of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Barefoot’s self-titled offering attempts to reinterpret some club classics in a quirky, jazzy style.

Fronted by the deeply sassy vocals of Sam Obernik, Barefoot first came to the attention when Pete Tong gave their take on White Lines his seal of approval and subsequently selected their album as his best of the month in Mixmag magazine.

Since then, they have continued to impress some high-profile industry figures, from Jo Whiley, to Eddie Temple-Morris.

The idea for the album came following Obernik’s rendition of the Tim Deluxe hit, It Just Won’t Do on Whiley’s Live Lounge, after which she resolved to team up with producer Tommy D in order to bridge the gap between the dance world and more conventional musicianship and songwriting.

Occasionally, this reinterpretation is as odd as it sounds. But it does have the habit of throwing up the odd classic, even taking some fairly generic club anthems and putting an entirely different spin on them.

Much of the success of the album lies in the power of Obernik’s devastating vocals, which sound like a classic lounge singer in bootleg Chicago, whispering their way out of a smoke-filled room and caressing your ear-drums.

Hence, derisory ‘club classics’ such as Horny get given an altogether sexier re-working, with Obernik at her most mouth-watering and sultry, perfectly complimenting the jazz accompaniment.

Likewise, Express 2’s Lazy gets a provocative make-over that features another crackling vocal performance, this time backed by an acoustic guitar.

Not everything is successful. No matter how many times I listened, the jazz style didn’t sit well with the drug-fixated lyrics of White Lines and only succeeded in sounding like a novelty record.While the piano lounge version of Born Slippy is so far removed from the style of Underworld’s anthem that it might as well be a different record (though it does sound good).

Odd slip aside, however, there is plenty to admire with tracks like Gypsy Woman and It’s Like That registering strongly. It makes Barefoot an outrageous delight – one that succeeds in seducing the listener simply because of the power of those vocals. They have to be heard to be fully appreciated.

Track listings:

  1. White Lines
  2. Pride
  3. Gypsy Woman
  4. Born Slippy
  5. It?s Like That
  6. Ain?t No Love (Ain?t No Use)
  7. It Just Won?t Do
  8. Days Go By
  9. Horny
  10. Lazy
  11. Do It To The Music
  12. Hideaway