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. The play he’s working on is entitled Broken Fingers, and the art show Dream of the Snow Geese. And the album Land Of Doubt is a meditation album centering around everyday reflection of the uncertainties in life. It’s a home hitter in that area especially, but it’s also folk music with a lot of heart and soul with a general singer/songwriter approach, with some southern jazzy textures. “Summer Wind” starts out with not much but some cool guitar bits to keep it interesting, and interesting the guitar is, appearing nowhere else on the album like that.

“Some Kind Of Blue” is a track for the masses to soak up, should they ever get wind of such a monster war tune. It tells the typical Viet Nam story and you feel him all the way, from his flashes of humor to flashes of sympathy, as well as his blunt portray of it. He takes you through most of the aspects that meet the usual standard in war songs, but you get the feeling it’s more personal whether you know or not. It’s a lot to take in but once you do there’s almost a sigh of relief, and then it’s all over after the marching beat. Nothing left to do but carry onto the next song with another instrumental, this one a haunting little piano solo. It makes its way into the next track without hardly any notice.

“Margaret” is a melancholy little tune about someone who sounds like anyone would want to be around. He displays a certain swagger in this which can’t be found anywhere else on the album, and it’s appropriately placed but doesn’t seem intentional, and some of the effortlessness of that comes off very well on this song which also has some decent piano behind it too. It’s a point where the mention of production by Neilson Hubbard, using the jazz trumpet of Don Mitchell and the sustained guitar textures of Will Kimbrough, producer/guitarist for Rodney Crowell and Todd Snider, to frame the lyrics. So, it’s not all Sam Baker to credit but all his table to sit at.

“The Feast Of Saint Valentines” is cool, and so is “Moses In The Reeds” especially with the latter’s funny parts if you can catch them. And another highlight for me is “Say The Right Words” which gets the heart of matters and comes with some awesome trumpet playing to polish it off nicely. “The Sunken City Rises” is a string pieces with some cello and violin that start to mesmerize as it falls too short, but “Peace Out” extends the mood nicely. The lyrics tend to lose me but it’s the guitar that makes up for it. “When Fallen Angels Dwell” is the second most interesting instrumental and the album closes with a band on “Land Of Doubt” as it walks away with the ultimate effort of the album. 

Alan Foster

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