media

horse

Terry Gross and WHYY May 6, 2014

Press for say grace

1. Rolling Stone Top 10 Country Albums for 2013 (#5 position) http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/10-best-country-albums-of-2013-20131210/sam-baker-say-grace-19691231

2. Rolling Stone Top 100 Songs of 2013 (#68 “Ditch”)

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-best-songs-of-2013-20131204/sam-baker-ditch-19691231

3. American Songwriters Top 50 Songs of 2013 (“Say Grace” # 10)http://www.americansongwriter.com/2013/12/top-50-songs/5/

4. CMT Edge 10 Americana Albums Worth Hearing

http://www.cmtedge.com/2013/12/20/10-americana-albums-worth-hearing-in-2013/

5. Euro Americana Chart – Top 25 Albums of the Year, #2 positionhttp:

//www.euroamericanachart.eu/index.php/layout/yearlist-2013

6. No Depression – Best of 2013 blogs- Jela Webb #1, Hal Bogerd #3, Skot Nelson #6http:

//www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/a-list-of-lists-our-featured-bloggers-favorite-albums-of-2013-1

7. Altcountry.nl Best Albums of 2013 (#2) and Reader’s Choice (#4)

http://www.altcountry.nl/blog/2013/12/het-beste-van-2013-jg/

http://www.altcountry.nl/blog/2013/12/de-top-15-van-2013-en-de-lijstjes/

8. Folk DJ List – Top 100 Artists of the Year

9. JC’s Best O’ 2013 — Songwriter

http://www.countryrootsmusic.com/3rdcm/#best

10. Midnight Special – Rich Warren’s Favorites of 2013

http://www.midnightspecial.org/favorites2013.htm

11. John Platt of WFUV New Yorkhttps:

//www.facebook.com/WFUVPage/posts/10152081305468279

12. Himes Best Albums of 2013 — Best New Non-Jazz Albums (#6 position)

http://members.jazzjournalists.org/2013Best?mode=PostView&bmi=1456273

cool piece from Lone Star Music

Sam Baker might be the most captivating songwriter in America. You’ll probably never catch yourself singing one of his songs in the shower, because his melodies generally tend to be as bare-bones servicable as the raspy scratch of his singing; but by God, you listen to what he has to say, hanging on for every line like a baby bird at feeding time. Sometimes his words come out haltingly, one by one; others tumble out of his mouth in spurts of nursery rhyme cadence (“copper penny for your thoughts/copper jacket full of lead/they wanted little Jimmy Cagney dead …”) By the time he sing-speaks them all, he’s burned a black-and-white image or sometimes even a whole movie in your mind that lingers long after each song ends. Some, like “Juarez” and “Odessa” from 2007’s Pretty World, will haunt you for life. Baker’s fourth album, Say Grace, adds several more masterpieces to that gallery, begining with the title track’s poignant portrait of a woman weighing the ghosts of her past against the lonely onset of advancing age. In “Migrants,” he tells of 14 men who cross the border only to succumb to the elements of the brutal Sonora desert. “Ay mijitos/they looked like dried leaves/scattered in the sun,” Baker sings with a sadness underscored by Joel Guzman’s keening accordion. “They got 12 lines in a midwestern paper/on the pages with the ads for shoes.” But there’s true grace here, too, from the sweetly touching but unmawkish “Isn’t Love Great” to the surprise sense of humor leavening the blue-collar angst of “Ditch”: “My wife God bless her and for what it’s worth/thinks she and Taylor Swift/were twins at birth/separated at birth/Earth to wife/wife to earth!” — RICHARD SKANSE  http://www.lonestarmusic.com/magazine/mag_html/July13/lone_star_music_reviews.html#sam

cool piece from Paste Magazine

Prior Records

m e r c y is listed by Texas Music Magazine as one of the 50 Essential Texas Albums

odessa from p r e t t y  w o r l d is listed as one of the Top 50 Classic Texas Songs by Texas Music Magazine

 

 

 

 

Old Quotes

{ m e r c y }

“One of the Top Twenty Albums 2000-2009″
- Geoffrey Himes

{ c  o  t  t  o  n }

“Sam Baker’s is a hard-hewn grace, transcendentally wrought with grit, brutally chiaroscuroed by a weary deliverance sought in common lives”
- Doug  Freeman, The Austin Chronicle

{ p r e t t y  w o r l d }

“Magnificent – one of the great albums of the year”
- Bob Harris
“Beginning to make big waves” – Rob Adams, The Herald

“A super-sensitive, classy album” – Graham Hassall, Radio Nightingale, UK

“Sam Baker’s Pretty World is a masterpiece of intense Song-writer craft, as certain as a rock in a Tornado and upright and juicy as a Cactus in the desert” – Frank Ipach, www. home-of-rock.de

“One of the stand-out albums of 2007″ – Karen Miller, The Miller Tells Her Tale, UK

“Sam Baker is a genius” – Freddy Celis, Rootstime, Belgium

“Brilliant” – Frank Ipach, Germany

“Amazing” – Jacques Spiry, Americana Music Club, RCF Radio, France.

“A five-star fantastic release from Sam Baker” – Francois Braeken, Belgium

“Sam Baker’s Pretty World is a great album” – Leo Kattestaart, Holland

“This is an exceptional album, just brilliant”- Folk Radio UK

“Sam Baker could soon become a very big star” – Jackie Blair, Country Music & Dance magazine (Scotland & Ireland)

Articles

 
The Daily Page – Madison, Wisconsin

Marc Eisen

A shining path: Sam Baker and Gurf Morlix, April 12, Kiki’s House of Righteous Music.

Morlix, a producer/songwriter/performer, is one of the Austin heavies. But it was Baker who captivated me. His songs are closely observed narratives of eccentric and marginalized people finding meaning in seemingly defeated lives–almost like Leonard Cohen’s, if Cohen had been a Baptist raised in west Texas.

There is tenderness and vulnerability in Baker’s songs, perhaps a product of his own nearly wasted life. An adventurer of sorts, he was almost killed when the Shining Path Maoist guerrillas blew up a train he was riding in Peru in 1986. Not your usual songwriter bio. Baker’s latest album, Pretty World, was one of my favorites of 2008. Moody and atmospheric, it is touched with moments of supine tenderness.

Rhythms Magazine –  Australia

Martin Jones

May, 2008

Pretty World

As Sam Baker follows the lonely howl of the lap steel that opens this record, drawl-singing in odd intonations, “He wears a blue suede cowboy hat, Got a Juarez woman stretched out on his lap, He sings an old song, A song to himself, He sings waiting round to die,” ears of fans of John Prine and Townes Van Zandt will immediately prick up. The latter, of course, wrote the song that the character is singing, whilst the singer himself, Baker, sounds unnervingly like Prine at times.  Far from derivative, though, this second album from Baker is utterly invigorating in both its originality and its poetic authority.  Both those traits become all the more affecting once you learn how hard-won they are. Twenty years ago, a train that Baker was traveling  through Peru in was blown up by terrorists. A boy right beside Baker was killed – Baker himself suffered serious injury including a crushed hand and brain damage that left him unable to retrieve words from his memory. Sure, teaching himself to play guitar again – left handed – must have been difficult. But can you imagine teaching yourself to speak and write again, because you’ve lost your life-time learned vocabulary?

Perversely, such afflictions have shaped Baker’s extraordinary originality, his drawl unconventionally measured, his words chosen meticulously, and his stories potent with experience and a hard-earned love of life. When Baker explores the memory of the accident, and particularly the boy’s death, on ‘Broken Fingers’, his voice stumbling as if in his own pain, you can’t help but be shaken: “Forget his eyes, His silhouette, Of course I don’t, Of course I don’t forget. There are blue eyes, A silhouette, There is a debt, A debt I don’t forget.” Baker has the courage to place his damaged vocals proudly out front of the arrangements on Pretty World, and the nous to contrast them with exquisitely gentle country instrumentation – pedal steel, harmonica and strings – which carries the lion’s share of the melody. With the evocative instrumental arrangements strong enough to score a film on their own, and Baker’s raw but elegant imagery filling your noggin, Pretty World is filmic in its narrative. After you’ve immersed yourself in these compelling sounds and vignettes, most of them tragic, Baker blinds you with his fundamentally eloquent appreciation for life in ‘Days’, painting a picture of domestic Christmas bliss in Spanish language over simple, pure guitar notes, concluding, “These days, How beautiful…” before sighing to a close like a perfect sunset, revisiting the album’s title-track and message over shimmering pedal steel. At over fifty years old, fuelled by determination, application, and grace, Sam Baker has delivered two of the most vital singer-songwriter records of the decade. Do not pass him by.

Rock ‘n’ Reel magazine, UK

Sean McGhee

December 2007

Readers perhaps imagine that receiving lots of review CDs must be a real joy and, although I’m not separated enough from reality to realise that it’s a very privileged position to be in, sometimes ploughing through hours and hours of unrewarding recordings can become a real chore. Despite that, amongst the thousands of CDs received each year, the tiny percentage of life-affirming releases means that when they do appear they’re cherished like the gems they are.

Sam Baker’s Pretty World is one of these truly special recordings. You want comparisons? Imagine Steve Earle, Shane MacGowan and Johnny Cash jamming in a back street Austin, Texas bar when in comes Nick Cave and the spirit of Townes Van Zandt.

Although it’s Baker’s writing and half-spoken, half-slurred vocals that prove the charismatic attraction, the fact that he’s surrounded himself with a sympathetic musical dream team who contribute violin, slide, mandolin, accordion, bass and a gently rolling percussion means that the results are utterly wonderful.

Amongst such a collection of unforgettable originals it’s a near impossible task to select highlights, although the poignancy and power of songs such as ‘Orphan’, the dark tale of ‘Odessa’ that inhabits a similar place as Dylan’s ‘The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll’ and the majesty (and nearest he ever gets to rockin’) that is ‘Psychic’will suffice. A classic album.

The Irish Times

Tony Clayton-Lea

May 2008

Sam Baker? He’s an under the radar kinda guy of indeterminate age (we’d guess in or around his mid-50s), with long hair, a laconic turn of phrase and the kind of disposition that could well be the epitome of world-weary.

Baker is a relatively unknown quantity to many people in this part of the world – and he isn’t too well known in his native America, either. From Texas, his adopted home is Austin; he was working full time until 2005, which was the year his 2004 debut album, Mercy, began to be heard outside his locality. By his own admission, he came to what he refers as “the world of entertainment” quite late. “The fact that I’m pretty much invisible is something that’s perfectly okay with me – that’s just the way it is. Invisibility is something I’m used to. Most people are used to being anonymous, anyway – well known only within their town or locality, or even within their family, and that’s fine, too.”

Mercy may have been Baker’s calling card, but his latest album, Pretty World, is unquestionably a hard knock on the door and a foot in the hallway. The songs are equal parts fragile and tough, and reflect a number of lives lived, lost and yearning for release. While it extols the ecstasy of living, it also views life through a pair of fractured binoculars, and if Baker has a knack for writing songs that are full of distinctive characters – observed to the point of the listener being virtually able to hear them think – then this knack also provides the unique selling point of Baker’s delivery, which is as lived in and worn down as an old boot.

Unsurprisingly, what he excels at – his uncanny skill at being to humanity what David Atttenborough is to the animal kingdom – is the very thing that inspired him to become a songwriter. “Songs and words are something I’ve always played around with, the actual craft of them. It started when my sister Chris made a record in the late 90s – she had a couple of my songs on it. At that time I thought I should try to learn how to be more precise in what I was saying as opposed to putting something down that was an emotional impulse, or surge. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I really wanted to learn the process of rewriting, redrafting until I got it right.

“In 2000, I thought of doing a record that involved a whole body of work. I went to Nebraska, a beautiful state, and I thought I would focus on a more cohesive creative streak that was not so erratic and not so diffuse. That’s where the album Mercy came from – when it was finished I thought it was one good piece of art.”

Baker says he never had many expectations of Mercy, other than that it was forged out of truth and a sense of justice. Actually getting to the point where he conceived a life beyond his day job was an alien thought. He didn’t promote the record, neither did he advertise it; and he manufactured, initially, about 1,000 copies. “I’m not sure I thought too much ahead of that,” he says in a tone of voice that really means what it says. “I gave a copy of the record to a guy who worked at a radio station in Fredericksburg, Texas, and the next day he began to play tracks from it. That started the ball rolling, but it didn’t do much until a friend of mine (Austin producer/songwriter Gurf Morlix) gave a copy to the BBC’s Bob Harris. At that point, the invisibility cloak I was wearing started to slip off. And then Harris played tracks off of Pretty World, too.”

Once again, Baker expresses mild surprise that anyone would take notice of his observational songwriting. Is there a point at which he’d rather not observe, or is observing the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of people simply what he does?

“Frankly, I don’t have a choice. The songs come from a combination of certain things that I’m drawn to. Some create an emotional response in me, and if my writing skills are pretty good then I come closer to being able to describe it so that it has some small measure of completeness. Included in that completeness is in some way a reproduction of whatever it was that drew me in emotionally. If the writing is reasonably accurate then I can approximate it. It takes a lot of work to do that – how the characters behave, how they dress, and so on.”

He says that the album title is from the heart and not to be misinterpreted as ironic. This is interesting; in 1986, Baker was travelling on a train across the arid landscapes of Peru, when a terrorist bomb blew up the rail car he was in. He took a bunch of shrapnel, while the people he was with were killed. Gravely injured and deafened by the blast, the following decade was spent recovering physically and spiritually.

“The world is a very difficult place,” Baker states calmly. “It’s full of terror, dread, guilt and can be frightening, but at the same time there are places on earth that are so exquisitely beautiful it’s heart wrenching. I do think the world is a pretty world. Do I think that everything is pretty? No, I’ve seen some stuff that would rattle your teeth. Living in the world without the things that are unbelievably beautiful is wrong. To ignore the awful and accept only the bright and shiny, to celebrate the joy over the despair, is also wrong. Somewhere, at any given time, there are both. For Pretty World it felt like it was right to emphasize the beauty. So yes, I pushed a bit more spotlight on the prettier side of things.”

The bomb blast in South America was clearly a pivotal moment in his life; Baker doesn’t even take breathing for granted.

“The force from the blast knocked the breath out of me, and I couldn’t re-inflate my lungs,” he recalls, the memory of it making his voice contract. “The things that we all take so much for granted are quite possibly the things that can be pivotal moments.

“I genuinely think we have pivotal moments all the time. Some are subconscious, some are obvious, some are pre-destined. Perhaps my course in life is to be more accepting of what is taking place naturally. Honestly, anytime that I can draw breath is a pivotal moment for me.”

Sam Baker plays Kilkenny’s Clubhouse, Saturday May 3rd and The River Court Hotel, Sunday, May 4th. The Carlsberg Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots event takes place from Friday May 2nd to Monday May 5th.

The Irish Times

Joe Breen

pretty world

This is a remarkable album. It is the work of a survivor, someone who came so close to death that grasping every fragment of life is everything. As he says on his website, “all we’ve got is this one breath. And then, if we’re lucky, we have the next breath.” He should know. Sam Baker was a Texan college graduate travelling the world when he was caught up in a train bomb blast in Peru in 1986. Now 53, two years ago he released his first album, and now comes Pretty World. There are lots of influences, not least the gritty poetic voice of Guy Clark and the stories of Raymond Carver and Richard Ford. Baker picks from all to create something that buzzes with truth and honesty framed by alt.country melodies, arrangements of earthy elegance and a voice of gravelly grace. Hear him at the forthcoming Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots Festival.

Mojo

Sylvie Simmons

The songs on this little-known Austinite’s self-released second album are simple on the surface, poetry underneath – hence Townes Van Zandt comparisons. Despite the six-piece band and various guests (including Gurf Morlix), this is understated, affecting music, and even the songs that don’t quote old gospel standards (Orphan; Odessa) sound like you’ve always known them.

Americana UK

David Cowling

Invite an outsider inside your life

Baker is the kind of outsider figure that Vic Chesnutt or Johnny Dowd cuts, singular in style, almost astylistic (if there is such a term). His vocals are halting, spoken like he is singing to himself with no mind for the audience, this is a private dialog, the songs are short films playing in his head. It doesn’t exclude the audience though; you are drawn in to these tightly sketched dramas by the imagery, the broken vocal and most importantly for the initial listens –the sympathetic musical backing. ‘Slots’ is a prime example, a simple story of an old woman playing the slots at Reno; the backing is restrained, bleached almost, highlighting with squiggles of electric guitar and some excellent backing vocals from Britt Savage, the song burning itself into your mind like you’ve been looking into the sun for too long. Odessa brilliantly sketches the desiccation of a life spoilt in youth, the pedal steel from Lloyd Maines finding just the right tone and the song finds poetry in heartbreak and disappointment – lines like ‘he is going to die without a trace’ are the kind that Willy Valutin is lauded for; spare economical, believable, Faulkner in five minutes. Stories captured in the dust motes of the instrumental notes, shafts of light illuminating the everyday ‘Days’ mixes Spanish with a elegiac soundtrack, cello and steel guitar bringing to life a simple domestic memory.

These songs have solidity, substance and authority – everything is done on Baker’s terms. You enter into his cracked world and it offers up a rewarding listen.

John Gjaltema

He wears a blue suede cowboy hat. He’s in a brothel in Juarez with a lady on his lap. Without anyone hearing it, he sings a song. He sings waiting around to die. This is how Sam Baker starts his second cd Pretty World (self released). The next song is about a woman who her whole life long tells everyone she’s an orphan. But really she isn’t. Truth is, her mother was fed up with a child who was constantly demanding attention. So mother dearest took her to an orphanage for girls. Which is where she finds herself, the only girl with straight hair in a house full of curls. Sam Baker (acoustic guitar, mouth harp) is a gifted story teller. He only needs a few words to grab your attention. He makes visualising easy. The third song is about a woman in her mobile home outside Reno. She hangs out in a casino most of the time. In one hand a glass of gin, in the other coins for the slot machines. She needs that kind of action. In yet another song a woman stuffs her life in boxes. Pictures gap-toothed kids. Drawings made by same children. Trophies and an old newspaper showing a wedding picture and a bunch of valentine cards that say I love you. Sam Baker still has the prairie sand on his vocal chords, according to Peter Pleyte in his review of the debut cd, Mercy, one of the strongest albums of this decade. With Pretty World, the Texan has once again delivered an album for the yearly lists. Once again he’s accompanied by Mike Daly (pedal steel, slide), Ron DeLaVega (bass, cello), Micky Grimm (drums, percussion), Rick Plant (electric guitar) and producers Tim Lorsch (violin, mandolin) and Walt Wilkins (acoustic guitar, vocals). The guests include Joel Guzman, Lloyd Maines, Fats Kaplan and Gurf Morlix. A sublime piece of work

Country Music People

Michael Hingston

5 stars out of 5

“This is an album of fascinating rhythmic ideas, stunning poetic lyrics and beautifully-judged arrangements. Sam Baker comes from the rich tradition of Texas songwriting and his narrative skills are in the mould of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. He deserves to be far more widely heard”

Maverick Magazine UK

August 2007

pretty world

A fantastic album that is guaranteed to open your mind and your heart

*    *    *    *

Every day we witness people behaving like crazy people – selfishness and greed and rat race short tempers there for all to see. The art of looking after number one has reached epidemic proportions.  And all the time if we just took a minute to slow down and be a little more thoughtful, what rich rewards we would gain.  Does ugly, negative energy have an effect when it floods the space around us? You bet. Those who carry a positive charge, then, must be good to have around, to counter-balance things.

It is well documented that Sam Baker has had to learn to be a survivor.  He has learned forgiveness when most of us would have emerged bitter and looking for some payback. Like a kid filled with wonder, he has become an observer with a keen eye and a heart of gold. He takes in the idiosyncrasies others wouldn’t pick up on as he closely studies the characters he encounters.  He is tuned in and appreciative of the little things that most of us take for granted.  In this consumer crazy age we could all do to take a page out of his book; stop and smell the flowers.  Baker’s last fine album, MERCY was extraordinarily moving. When he first heard it, producer Gurf Morlix was prompted to describe Baker as the best songwriter he had heard in years.  While PRETTY WORLD finds the half-whispered sandpaper voice still sounding fragile and vulnerable, the power of the message is as strong as ever.  Not that the ‘message’ is necessarily spelled out in black and white so much as subliminally there in the very energy that he carries with him.  There is a basic spirituality running right through the core which makes it almost therapeutic to listen to someone who is so well-balanced and at one with himself and the rest of the world, even its darker underbelly.  One or two of the stories are set to sparkle almost hymn-like with the band bringing an old-time Preservation Hall feel to create just the right amount of uplifting spirit.

Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More is cleverly used to thread around the main melody on Odessa, a tale about a poor soul who made all the money he could ever have wanted from being oil-rich, but lost the things that really mattered.  Over-all the production job is perfect, with arrangements and playing hitting just the right level of sensitivity, most of the time, involving little more than bare, albeit very tasty, essentials.

There is just one break-out with the full band – Mike Daly, Ron Dela Vega, Mickey Grimm, Tim Lorsch, Rick Plant, Walt Wilkins and Bill McDermott – all cranked up and breaking sweat for Psychic.  He shows us that the healing process for him is ongoing, Broken Fingers a reminder that there are scars he’ll carry with him forever.  Then almost as a thanksgiving piece, with Days, he lets us know he is grateful for everything from the smell of baking bread to the simple light of candles.

His voice trails off…”These days, how beautiful…”

With a little help from the Sam Bakers of this world, some day, we might hopefully all see it that way.

– LT, Maverick Magazine

 –

The Herald

Rob Adams

August 02 2007

‘Something can happen in a flash – and there’s your song’

Sam Baker has a simple philosophy. “You do what you can with what you’ve got,” says the Austin, Texas-based, singer-songwriter whose work is beginning to make big waves. “And if you start looking at what you don’t have, well, you’re lost.” An upbeat character whose conversation is punctuated at regular intervals with easy laughter, Baker has reason to count his blessings. In 1986, while he was visiting Peru, a terrorist bomb exploded on the train that was about to take him to the Inca city of Machu Picchu. The German family sitting opposite him and with whom he had been sharing typical tourist chat were all killed. Baker passed out, came to on the operating table and felt sure that he wouldn’t survive either. His recovery was slow. His left femoral artery had been severed and his left hand was, he says, “badly chopped up”. Following emergency surgery in Peru, he had to undergo 17 corrective operations back home in Houston. At first he couldn’t walk or feed himself and for a long time he expected every room and every car he sat in to blow up. Eventually, he got back to work. Before the incident he’d been a carpenter and a rafting guide. But he found a job in a bank and in his spare time he began writing short stories to try to make sense of what had happened to him.

“It’s a surreal experience, of course, because we’re not living in that kind of situation all the time,” he says. “One minute everything is normal and safe and I’m speaking to this German kid who’s translating for his mum and dad, who are sitting so close our knees are almost touching. Then suddenly this red backpack in the rack above the mum explodes. It blows her head off. The kid is pinned to his seat by shrapnel through his chest and I can’t breathe with the force of the explosion. I remember thinking, This is it. I’m not going to make it’.”

The long-term physical consequences for Baker were complete deafness in one ear and only 70% hearing in the other, and when he got back to playing the guitar, he had to adapt to playing left-handed. “I wasn’t exactly a virtuoso before. I’d had piano lessons as a kid because my mum played piano and organ in the church, and there was always music in the house,” he says. “But I soon gave up music for baseball and football until I was about 19, and then I bought a guitar in a pawn shop and taught myself. That was terrible, though. Your hands hurt and it sounds dreadful.” Looking back, the songs he began writing in his 20s were, he says, pretty awful, too. “They were all that kind of I love you and you don’t love me’ thing and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that I decided to try to get serious,” he says.

Writing fiction had given him what he considers his most valuable tool: the ability to pare down words and just accept that sometimes it’s necessary to take something he’s laboured over for hours, if not days, and “boot it out the door”.

The songs on his first album, Mercy, which came out in 2004, were so sparse that even their titles consist of only one word. It’s an approach that has worked, though. Radio 2′s Bob Harris has just pronounced Baker’s second album, Pretty World, one of the albums of the year. “I’m not trying to capture whole lives in these songs,” says Baker. “They’re just moments, because you can cover so much in two or three minutes. Something can happen, as I know from that train in Peru, in a flash and you have the basis for a story right there. I often start out with a lot of stuff and start peeling away, and if I can get it so that there’s not one phrase that annoys me and where every word carries a lot of implication without sounding false, then I’m happy.”

With his hearing difficulties, taking his songs on to the stage hasn’t been easy. But with a guitar style that he describes as “three chords and a cloud of dust, but I’m working on getting more expressive”, he has persevered. He’s due to play his first concerts in Scotland later in the year and says that since live performing is part of the reality of being a singer-songwriter, he can’t let physical problems become an obstacle.

“When it’s quiet and the onstage sound is good, I’m OK,” he says. “At other times, it’s like experiencing the Braille equivalent of music. I know when it feels right through my hands and my vocal cords. In the end, though, if you have something to say, you have to do it and find ways of working round whatever comes along. If it doesn’t all fall apart, that’s great.”

http://www.theherald.co. uk/features/features/display.var.1589492.0.0.php

Plato Record Store – The Hague, NL

newsletter of 16 August 2007

“Sam Baker – Pretty World”

It’s probably rather lame, but Sam Baker’s first cd, Mercy (in stock again soon), hit us like a bomb. (This debut album consisted of an intense description of a very traumatic experience; the train in which he was travelling became the target of a terrorist assault by the group the Shining Path. Not all passengers were this lucky, but Sam (barely) survived this near surrealistic incident and went through a long period of rehabilitation. He used Mercy to work through this absurd period of hovering between more dead than alive. This new album goes further, further into life. In Pretty World Sam Baker celebrates life and modestly enjoys the little things, that otherwise might well have so easily gone unnoticed. This cd is of the same sublime quality as its predecessor. Musically and textually Pretty World offers the best that Texas has to offer right now’; cleverly deep about friends, family and loved ones. No bite-size nuggets but beautiful story songs about everyday living. This living is a one-off, it’s short enough, focus on the essentials and take the rest as it comes, that, in short, is the message. Be happy with simplicity.  (Rein v/d Berg).

To which I, Harry Hoving (record store owner), want to add that this cd hit me like a bolt of lightning, it’s awesomely beautiful.

Reaction to pre-release review copies of Pretty World was so instantaneous when they went into circulation in Europe that the CD jumped straight to the No 1 slot on the Euro Americana Chart, compiled from returns sent in by almost seventy music journalists, radio show presenters and internet sites in the UK, Eire, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany,

Denmark and Sweden, indicating that the vast majority thought it was the best album they had received in July. Contributors send in their top six albums each month to make up the Chart which acts as an indicator of who and what is hot.

As a result, Pretty World has been featured on many radio shows and been praised by leading presenters such as Bob Harris, Bryan Burnett, Iain Anderson and Archie Fisher (all BBC)

 

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