Terry’s Paradise was almost lost. In March of 2020, Sam Barber, the mind behind the project, had just released Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1, the first of a pair of EPs, and had put together a five piece band to begin touring the new material. The onset of the pandemic put a stop to all that.
“Losing that momentum was devastating, but I felt like I had more to say sonically, enough so that I wasn’t ready to move on from Terry’s Paradise,” says Barber. He put out the second Shoobeedoo installment in September of that year, four more songs recorded in the before-times, but beyond that, Barber’s calendar was clear. After a number of long, aimless weeks, he began work on a new batch of songs, four of which would become the third EP from Terry’s Paradise, Postmodern Doowop, out today as a independent release. “The bright side was that all that time at home allowed me to lean into DIY recording to an extent that I hadn’t had time to before,” says Barber of those long lockdown days. “And without bandmates to bounce song ideas off of, recording became my collaborator. It was a painstakingly slow process, full of wrong turns and misguided choices, but allowed me to write in a way I hadn’t in the past. And because I took my time, I was able to refine these tracks in a way that isn’t possible when the whole band goes into the studio and records four songs in a day.“
Postmodern Doowop takes its name from the genre descriptor Barber gave his releases from the outset, a reinterpretation of the feels and progressions of the likes of Little Anthony and the Imperials through the lens of folk-inflected indie rock. “Dusty Rose” finds Barber in more of his folk bag, crooning that “summer’s just a dusty kind of rose.” On “I Wanna Know,” Barber plays his own backup singer, shoobeedoo-ing in layers tucked back in the mix, each vocal track like a reflection in an antique mirror. “Maybe I’m Remembering It Wrong” examines the way time and thought began to blur together during that summer of 2020, and “Religious Man,” the EP’s ambitious closer, turns skyward, then inward, as Barber attempts to come to terms with the compounding traumas that the year kept bringing. “I’m not a religious man, but I need someone to blame, cause I feel tomorrow’s just the same,” he sings, the final words dropping into an unexpected minor, mirroring the sentiment they convey.
“The mind is its own place and, in itself, can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same,” says Lucifer in the opening lines of Milton’s Paradise Lost, lines which resonate with the evolution of Terry’s Paradise on Postmodern Doowop into a project concerned with the individual depths of our thoughts, particularly those we have when we’re alone. It’s in this way that it earns its postmodern distinction, deconstructing a genre concerned with lost love into its constituent parts, loss and love, and then rebuilding from there, anew.
Postmodern Doowop sits together with Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low pts 1 & 2, as the final section of a musical triptych that works as one whole. To commemorate the completion, Terry’s Paradise is raising funds now to press up the three EPs onto a single record for a limited vinyl run, a campaign which at the time of press has just met its goal. All three EPs are available now on major streaming services.