Monday, August 28, 2017

Sam Baker - Land Of Doubt

Sam Baker - Land Of Doubt

Following a European tour behind his new album, Land Of Doubt, Sam Baker is turning his attention to creative projects in 2017: Opening his first-ever exhibition as a visual artist, staging an original play and filming a documentary. As you may know, Sam has limited hearing after being on a bus that exploded during a 1986 terrorist attack in Peru, but he’s from Texas, now living in Austin. This album brings the world up to date on his current activities and sets the tone for the future which brings a lot of new territory into the mix for him, of which some of the songs get vastly described here. There are fifteen tracks, so it’s quite a lot to take in, let alone put down to words about. To begin with this is Americana music of the traditional folk variety. “Summer Wind” kicks it off with what is essentially a guitar-driven piece with some piano backing. It’s a haunting track with a nice mid-section which displays some good guitar chops. It’s not a bad opener but things get more serious on “Some Kind Of Blue” with a better vocal delivery to get a better perspective of his voice. It’s more than a pleasing follow up to the opener and sets the rest up with a better example of his talents. It’s all about staying alive.

The next track “Margret” is followed by a 48 second instrumental called “The Silvered Moon.” They pass by a little faster than the previous two but “Margaret” explores some great arranging, for the love song that it is. “Love Is Patient” is less of a song but it does pick up a little half-way through. The guitar and piano are what really impress the most on this track. “Song Of Sunrise Birds” is a lovely instrumental that leads into “The Feast Of Saint Valentine” which is one of the most brooding tracks and shows the dramatic side of Sam Baker to its fullest extent on this album, and comes off the most serious in the process. “Moses In The Reeds” is a lot more playful than any previous tracks and it helps pick up the pace a little, so it’s a welcoming track for the most part. There is much to like about the arrangement here as well. Bob Dylan almost meets the Beatles, if that is anyway to describe it which is never as easy a job as it might seem. Another track that bodes the same way is “Sunken City Roses” which is led by a complex string arrangement, but it loses a point for being too short as another instrumental piece that could use a few minutes extension at the very least. It still compels either way.

“Peace Out” is one of the highlights with a video of footage of the Sand Diego coastline. It’s one of the most sublime moments on the album and serves to get Sam Baker under the skin by showing what a good songwriter he is. It deals with letting it all go and washing your troubles away. And “Where Fallen Angels Dwell” is a nice relaxing mellow piece to go with the final cut which is the title track. It must be a trend lately to do that. “Land Of Doubt” is an outdoorsy western of sorts that carries a haunting melody and earns its title with an excellent way to end a fine record. 

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