This way out

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  March 25, 2009

BANDAGES | Released by The Way Out is Through | at the Grind, in Worcester, Massachusetts | March 26 | www.myspace.com/thewayoutisthroughrocks

Continuing our study of the Portland diaspora, Shana Barry has gone Downeast — and out of this world, for that matter. While Barry's work singing for Seekonk may have at times seemed otherworldly, with her newest project she's actually created another universe, where the island of Fof is populated by happy little Fofers (kind of like brightly colored Ewoks). It's kids' music, yes, with requisite songs extolling diversity, peace, and going to sleep quietly, but a soothing and engaging listen for a grownup with a certain disposition.

All of the eight songs on A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree, Barry's Fofer origin story, are sparely arranged, just Barry and a guitar, or a ukulele, and are seductive in their simplicity and straightforwardness. "Around the Island" is literally a tour; "Great Mystery" is a creation myth. Barry's vocals are effervescent, a wisp you can't quite a get grip on, but not always perfectly pitched or full of body. If they were you'd be suspicious.

While she doesn't employ little kids like Kimya Dawson's great Alphabutt, nor go for big arrangements like the classic Free to Be... You and Me or Really Rosie, Barry does manage that most-difficult of tasks. She makes children's music that's not childish. Some of the tunes here I'd love to hear fleshed out into full indie-rock arrangements, but nothing's half-baked or dumbed-down.

The one thing I can certainly get with here is the sense of wonder Barry conveys. It's definitely true that we too often take our world's splendor for granted. Barry doesn't.

A PINK WHALE AND A VERY TALL TREE | Released by Shana Barry | www.theshaggallery.com

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