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3 out of 4 stars

Title
Sleeping Operator
Artist
The Barr Brothers
Label
Secret City
Year
2014

One day the Eagles will wake up in hell and wish they had done it like The Barr Brothers.

Henley and Frey and company were exceptional but insincere, and sometimes not all that exceptional. Like the Eagles, Montreal's Barr Brothers rock the folk softly, though with soul, mellow adventure and gentle exoticism.

Second album Sleeping Operator is a little less catchy and FM-oriented than the quartet's debut disc, but warmer and more immersive. There are West African blues (Little Lover and Half Crazy), harps, pedal-steel situations and sacred-sounding explorations – "rust and beauty," as the band puts it.

Story continues below advertisement

Who will like this record? Fans of hot chocolate, laid-back Wilco and the breezy singer-songwriter Bahamas. On Even the Darkness Has Arms, a sympathetic Brad Barr sings about a "light in the window to pass the night through." It's a nice image, and metaphor for the music, too.

As for the Eagles, too bad for them, they failed to lighten up while they still could. The Barr Brothers, on the other hand, take it easy and give it real – curious, exceptional folk-rock for the longest winter night.

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