Abbie Barrett bridges a colorful spectrum of sound on ‘AB Sides’



Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.

Back before society slid off the rails, we used to have good days and bad days. Now it seems we mostly have good hours and bad hours, and they have a tendency to come and go, flip and flop, stack and shuffle, like two birds flying upward in the sky fighting for the scraps of a dead mouse left behind in a Somerville back alley. Depending on the hour, sometimes you feel loud, but sometimes you feel a bit more reserved.


Those two emotions, at times at battle, other times oddly complementary, filter through the speakers and into our head spaces via Abbie Barrett’s inaugural entry from her new series, AB Sides.

The premise is simple — release two songs at a time, one “a side” and the other a traditional “b side” –but the content is far more complex. “The idea behind the AB Sides is simply to get the music out,” says Barrett. “I love the album format, but sometimes you have a song that you just can’t wait to put out to listeners.”

But Barrett’s not giving herself enough credit. The delivery of “Better Machine” and “The Light” as companion pieces feels intertwined despite drawing their cores from polar opposites. The former, “Better Machine” as the “a side,” is a Barrett-ian roar of confrontational alt-rock, a throaty wallop of guitar-pop that flashes in vibrant color confidence. The latter, “The Light” as the “b side,” takes on a more subdued approach; a Bowie-esque glide through a galaxy of broken hope and despair, aided by a certain rawness and vulnerability bolstered by a cello solo (!) and the recording of actual breeding frogs at a local cemetery. Where there is commonality is that both show why Barrett remains one of Boston’s finest songwriters.


Barrett’s band these days is also no slouch, and includes some celebrated talents in our bustling scene: Guitarist Mike Oram, bassist Ed Valauskas, and drummer Eric Edmonston. Catch the quartet in proper Voltron form this Sunday (June 3) when Abbie Barrett open for The B-52’s at Aura in Portland, Maine.

That will most certainly be a case when the good hours all line up together. Hear the roar of the “Better Machine” and its sullen companion below.