Kim Barlow Lucky Burden

Kim Barlow has that rare ability to tell the stories of others in a way that is convincing and unpretentious. Born in Quebec but raised in Nova Scotia, Barlow took formal music training at Florida State University. However, somehow she ended up in Keno City, Yukon, a former bustling mining town where she taught herself to play the banjo and listened to the stories of the cities only remaining residents — all 14 of them. Barlow took in the history and turned it into a beautiful collection of songs that take you on the long drive 400km north of Whitehorse, into the Gustavus Range, to discover the simplicity and hidden beauty of Keno City. Barlow herself seems to be a native of the place, and perhaps she has become one. With a voice that’s innocent but reflects experience, she identifies with her surroundings so well that you can’t see the cut edges of where she’s pasted herself into the picture. Her storytelling is poetic, simple yet complex, and her subtle phrasing, with its unexpected turns, keeps you involved, your ears trained to the speaker. Barlow’s empathetic approach reveals the beauty and everyday sadness and joy of an unknown town, not too unlike our own, but further away than most of us are willing to go. (Caribou)