Emily Barker

Emily Barker (born 2 December 1980)[1][2] is an Australian singer-songwriter, musician and composer. Her music has featured as the theme to BBC dramas Wallander and The Shadow Line. With multi-instrumental trio The Red Clay Halo, she has recorded four albums: Photos.Fires.Fables. (2006), Despite The Snow (2008), Almanac (2011), and Dear River (2013), whilst releasing a solo album The Toerag Sessions (2015). Other projects include Vena Portae (with Dom Coyote and Ruben Engzell) and Applewood Road (with Amy Speace and Amber Rubarth).[3]

Emily Barker
Emily Barker at Lottes Musiknacht 2018
Background information
Born (1980-12-02) 2 December 1980
OriginBridgetown, Western Australia, Australia
GenresAmericana, Country, Folk
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, composer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano
Years active2003–present
LabelsEveryone Sang Linn Records One Little Indian
Associated actsEmily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, Vena Portae, Frank Turner, Austin Lucas, Applewood Road, Marry Waterson



Emily travelled to the UK in 2002, and was first based in Cambridge where she collaborated with guitarist Rob Jackson. They formed a band called the-low-country which released two albums, Welcome to the-low-country (2003) and The Dark Road (2004), tracks from which enjoyed plays on John Peel's BBC radio show.[4] In October 2005 Emily won Country Song of the Year and Regional Song of the Year awards at the annual West Australian Music Songwriting Awards. Also in 2005, Emily started work on her debut solo album, Photos.Fires.Fables., released on Emily's own label Everyone Sang. The release of this album saw the birth of The Red Clay Halo, an all-female trio of Anna Jenkins (violin, viola), Jo Silverston (cello, bass, banjo, saw), and Gill Sandell (accordion, piano, flute, guitar).


The band's first album released under the name Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, Despite The Snow, was recorded in live sessions in a 16th-century barn in Norfolk. Released in November 2008 on Everyone Sang, the album again garnered much praise. In late 2008, the album's opening track "Nostalgia" was discovered by composer Martin Phipps who re-recorded it with Emily for use as the theme tune for the hit television series Wallander on BBC1 starring Northern Irish actor Kenneth Branagh. The first series, which attracted over 6 million viewers per episode, won a slew of awards, including several BAFTAs[5] and a Royal Television Society award for its theme tune.[6]


In February 2011, Almanac was released, once again on Everyone Sang. The release of this album was accompanied by sessions for Cerys Matthews on 6 Music and Radio 4's Loose Ends, while the single "Little Deaths" was record of the week on Nemone's show on 6 Music.[7] Emily and the band again went on the road in the UK, culminating in a complete performance of Almanac at St Giles-in-the-Fields church in London. Almanac was jointly funded by spareroom.com, and a fan-funded campaign on Pledgemusic.com.[8]

The song "Pause" from Almanac was the theme tune for a major 2011 BBC2 drama serial, The Shadow Line, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston.[9] Martin Phipps again adapted the song for the title sequence.[10]


Early in 2012, Emily began a working relationship with producer Calum Malcolm, having been introduced to him by Gilad Tiefenbrun of Linn Products. Emily and The Red Clay Halo went into Gorbals Sound studios in Glasgow and recorded four songs, including a new version of Emily's murder ballad duet, "Fields of June", which had first appeared on Photos.Fires.Fables.; on this version, the male vocal part was sung by Frank Turner and was released as a limited 7" white vinyl on Xtra Mile Recordings.[11] The band then went back in to Gorbals Sound with Calum Malcolm in June 2012 to record their next album, Dear River. Shortly after completing the recordings, Emily, Anna, Gill and Jo were invited by Frank Turner to perform with him at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.[12] In the autumn of 2012, Emily toured Europe alongside Chuck Ragan, Cory Branan, Rocky Votolato, and Jay Malinowski as part of The Revival Tour.,[13] and the day after the last date on that tour, on 21 November 2012, Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo played a sold out headline show at London's Union Chapel.[14]


Dear River was released on 8 July 2013, charting at 99 in the official UK album charts, 23 in the Independent Albums chart,[15] and 7 in the Record Store Albums chart,[16] spending 4 weeks in the top 20.[17] Reviews were very favourable in both mainstream and specialist press: Will Hodgkinson in The Times gave the album a four star lead review, saying it contained "heartfelt songwriting... bridging the gap between folk, country and Fleetwood Mac".[18]


Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo released a special limited edition 10" vinyl EP for Record Store Day on 19 April 2014.[19] They celebrated the release by doing a tour of independent record stores, performing at seven stores over the holiday weekend[20] Working once again with Martin Phipps, Emily composed music for The Keeping Room starring Sam Worthington and Brit Marling. She then went on to compose her first feature-length soundtrack for the UK movie Hector (2015) starring Peter Mullan, released in December 2015.[21][22]


Emily Barker

Marry Waterson & Emily Barker

  • A Window to Other Ways (2019)

Applewood Road

  • Applewood Road (2016)

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo

  • Despite The Snow (2008)
  • Almanac (2011)
  • Dear River (2013)
  • Songs Beneath The River EP (2014)

Vena Portae

  • Vena Portae (2014)


  • Welcome To the-low-country (2003)
  • The Dark Road (2004)


  1. RateYourMusic (2012). Emily Barker. Retrieved on 2012-10-17 from http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/emily_barker.
  2. PBS (2012). Theme Song: Emily Barker. Wallander – Series II. Retrieved on 2012-10-17 from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/wallander/barker.html.
  3. Barton, Laura (3 November 2015). "The playlist – Americana: Bird Dog, Israel Nash and more". the Guardian.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 2010-10-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "BAFTA Awards". www.bafta.org.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Record of the Day - In tune. Informed. Indispensable". www.recordoftheday.co.uk.
  8. "Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo – Almanac".
  9. "The Shadow Line (TV Mini-Series 2011)" via www.imdb.com.
  10. McCormick, Neil (1 August 2013). "Emily Barker - Letters, exclusive live session".
  11. "Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Fields Of June (Featuring Frank Turner)". Discogs.
  12. "Frank Turner plays Olympics opening ceremony - NME". 27 July 2012.
  13. "The Revival Tour Announces Fall Dates in the UK and Europe - Revival Tour". www.therevivaltour.com.
  14. "Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo @ Union Chapel, London, UK – 21st November 2012". www.gigjunkies.com.
  15. "Official Singles Chart Top 100 - Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.
  16. "Official Singles Chart Top 100 - Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.
  17. "Official Singles Chart Top 100 - Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.
  18. Hodgkinson, Will (6 July 2013). "The Times".
  19. "Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Songs Beneath The River". Discogs.
  20. "Emily Barker - Record Store Day EP (Exclusive Video) - Folk Radio". 8 April 2014.
  21. "Hector - Trailer - Cast & Crew - About - Cinemas". hector.film.
  22. "Hector". 11 December 2015 via www.imdb.com.


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