Laura Barrett, Earth Sciences
That quirky sounding instrument you hear on Laura Barrett's debut EP for Paper Bag Records is the kalimba, an African thumb-piano. It creates a beautiful sound, especially when paired with Barrett's Plain Jane voice and wonderfully strange lyrics that encompass everything from robotic equines to smiling suns. Barrett got her start playing "Smells Like Nirvana," a cover of the Weird Al parody that's included here, but the eccentric subject matter and unfamiliar tones of the kalimba are anything but novelty. Just listen to "Deception Island Optimists Club," which was recently named a finalist for the SOCAN ECHO songwriting prize, and try to follow along with her nimble-fingered playing. She's a talent; Earth Sciences is just the beginning.