After a half decade layoff from recording on his own, Barney Bentall returns with his finest, his most powerful, and most incisive album to date, The Drifter & The Preacher on True North Records.
A rugged, fiercely ambitious work, The Drifter & The Preacher combines an intensely personal artistry with a broader vision of a public figure coming to terms with his ordered life as a musician, as a songwriter, as a husband, as a father, and as a son while turning in his most urgent, and forceful performance in memory.
While his catalog overflows with stellar music, this masterful, expertly crafted album is in the vein of the best recordings of Blue Rodeo, Jackson Browne, John Prine, Ian Tyson, Ron Hynes, and Tom Cochrane, and may prove to be a truly defining moment in Barney’s musical legacy.
Canadians first met Barney in 1988 as leader of the Legendary Hearts when MuchMusic embraced an indie video of the heartland anthem “Something to Live For.”
In 2000, Barney took time off from music to reflect on the next phase of his career. With his brother-in-law, he and his wife then purchased a cattle ranch in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Although he spent a sizeable amount of time running the ranch, Barney never quite removed himself from music. While remaining on the borders of the music landscape, he’d peek in to see if he saw anything he liked. This includes returning to recording with his solo albums Gift Horse (2006), which received a JUNO nomination, followed by The Inside Passage (2008), and Flesh & Bone (2012).
“My solo work is very important to me,” he sums up. “I wouldn’t want to be playing only with the Legendary Hearts. It’s wonderful when we do get together for some gigs because I do have my solo career and the Cariboo Express project. Right now, I’m focused on what I am doing on my own, but the other projects keep me learning, traveling new pathways, and keeps music vital for me.”
As frequent collaborator Jim Cuddy, who guested on “Won’t Change The World,” notes, “Barney had a similar trajectory as a neo-roots troubadour to the one we experienced in Blue Rodeo. He has so successfully transitioned from fronting a rock band to being a true Canadian troubadour in the tradition of Lightfoot, McLauchlan, and Cohen. I have loved his solo records, and they have frequently brought me to tears. He is a very poignant songwriter. His voice has the ring of authenticity, and I am easily swept up in the narrative of his songs. His records are my ‘go to’ ones when I need some familiarity to soothe my worries. Quite a man, quite an artist.”
The Drifter & The Preacher is available on October 13, 2017 on True North Records.