Hailing from Philadelphia, New York-based indie-folk artist, Lesley Barth, released the introductory single “Woman Looking Back at Me” for her sophomore album, Big Time Baby. The soul-stirring second record will release on May 15.
Feeling like an outsider of her own life, Barth breaks down her previous understanding of what achievement means in regards to happiness. This song follows her leap of faith from the comfort of her day job and re-establishing herself in a world without external, societal validation.
“My life felt totally foreign to me,” explained Barth, “and I was hard on myself for finding myself in this life I no longer recognized. One night, on a bus home to Queens from a friend’s party in Brooklyn, I suddenly became aware of this negative voice inside of my head – my inner critic – and was able to stop identifying so closely with it. I wanted to get to know the real me: the person who was able to take a step back and look at my inner critic with curiosity.”
Produced by Joe Michelini, of American Trappist, at Berlin Studios, Barth tracked her entire second album one day ahead of her ten-day completion deadline. Michelini kept Barth in the driver’s seat, steering her in the direction of the song-first approach. He taught her to make production choices in the service of the song. “Woman Looking Back At Me” incorporates a Blondie-inspired, laidback disco feel from “Heart of Glass” while other songs in the collection may be defined 70’s pop or country-Americana.
“At first, I was worried about spanning so many genres, but then I realized that’s just how I write.” “I wrote this album during the process of completely uprooting my life, and recorded it as I was still navigating life without structure and regular paychecks. It’s an album for these uncertain times where many people feel their lives have been stripped to the bone, they’ve woken up from a daydream, and they weren’t sure what tomorrow would bring because that’s where I felt I was when I wrote it. Almost all the savings I had for quitting my job got wiped away by healthcare costs, and I had to scramble.”
Big Time Baby jumps through genre loops, unfolding as a series of monologues. The ten-track record encourages the listener to become aware of the negative voices in their head and try to make friends with them. Barth explained that in doing so, the reason for their existence reveals itself. This record is about facing the negativity, feeling isolated, rebuilding yourself from failed attempts to navigate the ever-turning, numbers game that is modern life.
“What I learned through writing this album is that you can’t perform your life and live your life at the same time. There are moments when performance is required, both as a musician and a human being. But if we don’t take the mask off from time to time and connect to who we are, I can tell you from experience that one day you will wake up and not recognize who you are, or the life you’ve built. In my case, very inadvertently, unintentionally, and suddenly.”
Barth writes music with the hope that her songs will provide insight into her listener’s lives and affect change. The personal meaning grows for the breakout artist as she continues to transition into new seasons of life.
“I think anyone can relate to the incredibly uncomfortable period of figuring out you’ve outgrown your old life and trying to navigate the new one, while always learning to better love and forgive yourself.”
Listen to Lesley Barth’s groovy lead single, “Woman Looking Back at Me,” below. Pre-save her forthcoming album, Big Time Baby, before its release on May 15.