From the opening track of Toronto artist Laura Barrett's debut LP, Victory Garden, it's clear that this isn't the work of a traditional singer-songwriter. First of all, there is no mention of a guitar in the liner notes. Instead, a eclectic mix of instruments are listed, like the glockenspiel, vibraphone, grand marimba, theremin, oboe, viola, banjo, trumpet, trombone, xylophone, piano, and autoharp.
At the forefront of this arresting and often playful instrumentation, is the kalimba or thumb piano, which is an instrument of African origin that literally translates to "little music." The kalimba, Barrett's signature instrument, gives Victory Garden a distinctive sound that is at once whimsical, theatrical, and earthy.
Victory Garden is an intriguing whirlwind of vocals and sounds. With its fuzzed out organ and meandering melody, "Chidiya" initially sounds like an eerily cheerful funereal romp. "A Certain Major Vinylsky" is a perfect example of the mesmerizing qualities of the kalimba both as a separate entity and when combined with Barrett's rich and haunting vocals, and "The Sharper Side" exposes a darkly theatrical and carnivalesque slant. Far from ending on a quiet note like many albums, Victory Garden audaciously concludes with a cacophony of intersecting and overlapping loops with the aptly named "Victory Mashup."