Sam Baker - Land of Doubt: a compelling return for the Texan survivor

Tue, Jun 6, 2017, 20:30


Land of Doubt

Sam Baker



By now, we should know what to expect, but five albums in Sam Baker can still surprise. Bent but not broken by a terrorist bomb in Peru some time ago, the Texan songwriter’s work distills his experiences, both observed and imagined, old and new, into a elegiac array of taut, minimalist word pictures set to subtle and ornate arrangements.

Producer Neilson Hubbard and guitarist Will Kimbrough layer the sound invitingly, carpeting the songs for Baker’s singular vocals, which are not so much sung as spoken with halting intensity. Everything, from the brooding monochrome sleeve design to Dan Mitchell’s ominous horn on the closing title track, evokes this difficult world of pain and promise, of love professed and love rejected.

There are 15 tracks, including five spritely instrumentals which offset the often gloomy mood. The songs are compelling, none more so than The Feast of St Valentine or the stark Leave.

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