It’s been almost two years since we first mentioned Brad and Andrew Barr’s new project The Barr Brothers, a quartet with harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial, but now’s a perfect time to end the hiatus as they brought their debut LP’s lead single to the Late Show with David Letterman last night, completely killed it, and likely recruited a host of new/older fans to sit comfortably at this beautifully handmade table. Admittedly, as longtime fans of the Slip, we were slow to warm to the folkier side of the brothers Barr. Nevermind that, though: I’m completely sold. “Beggar in the Morning” showcases the technical-proficiency-meets-authentic-experimentation that provided a foundation to their earlier work, all wrapped up in an indelible number with some of Brad Barr’s most personally resonant lyrics to date. “I take my medicine on my knee,” he sings with his signature understated, nuanced tone. “Twice a day, but lately three.”
All that said, what truly brings this performance home is what made the Slip my favorite band at one point in high school (opening a show for them once was a highlight of my life): patience. As guitarist Marc Ribot once pointed out, rarely does an audience applaud restraint, requiring true dedication and a seasoned performer to pull off the feat of building a moment from the ground up while letting the empty spaces make the biggest statements. In that sense, this is songwriting that I feel safe in labeling “Hemingway-esque.” Without further ado, get to know the Barr Brothers above.