As stunning a recording debut as any Americana release in recent memory, "The Great Escape" is the fully-realized first album by captivating Grand Marais, MN multi-instrumentalist Barbara Jean. Featuring ten original compositions, Barbara Jean plays banjo, viola, and violin while singing her way through the center of heartache and change into the bright light of new beginnings. Produced by Bernie Larsen (El Rayo X, David Lindley) and recorded and engineered by Tom Fabjance (Low, Haley Bonar, Smashing Pumpkins) at the beautiful Sacred Heart Studios during a chilly Duluth winter, "The Great Escape" shines with all the softness, subtlety, and richness of a poignant songwriter at the outset of what promises to be a fabulous career.
Steeped in the waters of Lake Superior these songs deftly combine rich imagery from Barbara Jean’s rugged North Shore home with difficult choices poised in matters of the heart. From start to finish she delivers her narrative with skilled musicianship and a powerful yet vulnerable tone. From the title track ("The Great Escape") so full of longing, to songs of celebration and release ("Keep It Rockin", "Not What You Thought"), the record moves as a cohesive unit with honesty, compassion, and a burning desire to be understood. From dark, brooding contemplations like "Flesh and Bones" to the hopeful pop sensibility found in "Joy", the record brims with understated beauty and genuine song craft. Featuring stellar contributions from Larsen (guitars, bass, drums & backing vocals), Andy Dee (Blue Canvas Orchestra, Molly & The Heymakers) on steel and slide guitar, David Huckfelt (The Pines) on finger-style guitar, and Boyd Blomberg (The Gooneybirds), "The Great Escape" lands somewhere between the early Appalachian roots of American country music and the best of the rising crop of indie-folk songwriters breathing new life into tradition.