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Emily Barker in Leeds

Emily Barker
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Sunday 26th January 2025, £17.00
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"Emily Barker has a gift for great melodies" - The Guardian

an album of spare, striking beauty - Mojo

a kind of Australian equivalent of PJ Harveys Let England Shake - UNCUT 8/10

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all Emily Dickinson

The opening line of Emily Dickinsons short poem Hope is the thing with feathers inspired the central image of Emily Barkers new single Feathered Thing, written while she navigated cumulative grief.

When Barker was first introduced to producer Luke Potashnick (Gabrielle Aplin, Jack Savoretti, Katie Melua) in May 2022, she brought with her a full albums worth

of songs. But after visiting Potashnicks storied studio, The Wool Hall and hearing his ambitious production ideas, she was inspired to write one more song.

I also needed to process some heavy news she comments. Barker and her husband Lukas Drinkwater had been trying to start a family. Following a couple of failed IVF cycles (and other starts that wed lost), they investigated adoption and had decided to relocate to Australia to be closer to Barkers family.

It felt like we couldnt work out what we wanted, but we finally reached a point where we both felt at peace with not having kids, Barker recalls. It had been an incredibly intense time, coinciding with a house move and the pandemic.

And then Barker found she was pregnant. Wed done all these things to try to make it happen, and then it happened naturally (and against all biological odds). Having previously navigated losses throughout our pregnancy journey, we now had to get our heads around what having this new person in our lives might look like - emotionally and practically.

Soon after work began on the album, Barker had a miscarriage.

Songwriting has always been a way of processing throughout my life. Barker reveals how the new song came quickly as she sat at her piano at home. She shared an early version with Potashnick and remembers him politely asking, Do you mind telling me what this is about?

I think Id left it too abstract, initially, she reflects. It was difficult to open up about the miscarriage, but Luke was very supportive and encouraged me to dig a little deeper without necessarily being specific. I revisited the lyrics, and the result is much stronger.

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