We've been sitting on this review for several weeks now and it's taken all our efforts to keep it under wraps.
Michael Baker hails from the South of England and he's been the creator of beautiful music for several years. This weekend, his latest creation, the outstanding 10-track album "Salt" is released, the culmination of two years' soul-searching and shining a light on mental heath.
Opening with the sublime "Shed My Skin," the stage for the album is quickly set with acoustic backdrop and an introduction to Bakers' effortless vocals. Filled with delicate quiets and powerful louds, this is the perfect track to open the album, giving a three minute taster of things to come.
Without a doubt my favourite track of the album is "Baby Books." It is a nod to the writers friend who lost their life to suicide. It's set to a catchy, driving rhythm that detracts from the subject, a poignant call to a friend, "if only I had known, I could have helped." It's a stark contrast to the wispy "One God Damn" which brings an airy, light atmospheric vocal set to a delightfully soft soundtrack but carrying a positive message.
Another absolute delight comes in the form of "They Look Just Like They Know." It feels as though, looking around the room, people understand what is going on in your head. There's an unspoken understanding, people finally get it. The delicacy and intimacy of the song allows you to peer inside a troubled mind and gain just a little insight.
“My first album was your classic, for want of a better word, heartbreak record,” says Baker. “Coming past that period of my life, I made this album the one where I was able to talk about mental health. I was turning 30 in the music industry, that was hard. You question a lot of things at that age until you start realizing that it’s not all that serious. Ultimately, it was the happiest two years of my life while making this record. I have a wonderful girlfriend, wonderful friends, but still the same mental health problems that I’d been able to blame on other things before. It shocked me that I was still having these ups and downs.”
The album is filled with instant classics, intricately intertwined lyrics with lots of light and shade throughout. The overarching theme of mental health and self reflection delivers a tenderness, a sadness and a positivity in equal measures.
I have just one word to summarise this album. Wow.
You can catch Michael Baker live:
Thurs 19 March, The Brunswick, Hove
Sun 29 March, Duke of Cumberland, Whitstable
Mon 30 March, The Finsbury, London
Sun 5th April, The Loft, Kings Pub, Southsea