Fields Of Dreams

20 December 2012 | 5:30 am | Troy Mutton

“The two new songs explore a new direction in sound and arrangement, which was a good step to take before launching into recording our forthcoming record, Dear River."

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Some acts just seem a natural fit for the UK music scene, and that is definitely the case for Bridgetown's Emily Barker and her band The Red Clay Halo. Ever since they recorded their first album, Photos.Fires.Fables, in 2007, Barker and her rootsy ensemble have gained increasing traction in Europe. The 2008 follow-up, Despite The Snow, featured the BAFTA Award-winning track, Nostalgia, which featured on the Kenneth Branagh-starring BBC1 series, Wallander, while last year's Almanachas seen her spend more and more time in the UK, with sold-out tours and more, culminating in an appearance at this year's London Olympic Games.

“Absolutely incredible! And also quite surreal,” Barker – understandably – relays. “We did two dress rehearsals earlier that week, each one in front of 80,000 people. It's impossible to take it all in really. It was an honour to perform upon the replica Glastonbury Tor at the 2012 Olympics with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls along with my band The Red Clay Halo. We had a lot of fun!”

Indeed it's been a series of wins for Barker since taking the leap to try and push her wares in the United Kingdom, and before the Olympics the Wallander success was as unexpected as it was appreciated. “Having my song included as part of the show was down to Martin Phipps, the composer for the series who saw me at a gig and rang me up a few days later asking if I'd be up for having my song included. I didn't hesitate to say yes! It's bought us a lot of opportunities and exposed us to a lot of people who have since become fans. It also led to me getting my second crime-thriller synchronisation with a song of mine called Pause, which was used in a noir-thriller called The Shadow Line. So… I'm hoping for a hat trick!”

Whilst on a break down in our state's southwest – “[I've] spent the last week at home in Bridgetown at my parents' house recovering from an epic UK/Europeoan tour. It's the perfect place to relax. I'll be back there for Christmas too.” – Barker plans to get some songwriting done in preparation for the next album, due early 2013. “I'm going to do some new songs from the next record as so many of them are inspired by Western Australia. I'll probably have some guest appearances from various family members too as they're also musical.”

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And while Barker does come home fairly regularly, sometimes it's not enough to stave off bouts of homesickness. “Yes I do… still [get homesick]. I manage to come home to WA at least once a year, mostly twice actually. I miss my family more than anything, my gorgeous nephews who grow so quickly! I also miss the landscape, the smell of eucalypts, the Blackwood River, the space and the sun. But I think I balance time away and time home fairly well given they're so far apart!”

And as you might expect, Barker's not simply lazing about writing songs over the Christmas and New Year period; she'll also be playing a few shows to spruik a new EP, Fields Of June. “…Fields Of June is a song from my first record Photos.Fires.Fables, but since it's recording I've performed it live numerous times with my friend and music comrade Frank Turner [with whom she also performed at the Olympics]. So I thought it was about time we document the duet. The other is Nostalgia, from our second album, Despite The Snow…

“The two new songs explore a new direction in sound and arrangement, which was a good step to take before launching into recording our forthcoming record, Dear River. It also gave us a chance to work with producer Calum Malcolm in Gorbals Studio, Glasgow before committing to doing the full-length record with him. As expected, working with Calum and at Gorbals was amazing, so we ended up doing both the Fields Of June EP and our album there with him.”

Emily Barker will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 27 December - Mojo's, Fremantle WA
Saturday 29 December - The Daily Planet, Perth WA
Sunday 30 December - St Paul's Church, Bridgetown WA
Friday 4 January - Transmission Lounge, Denmark WA