Andrea Baker “Wild In The Hollow” (Independent, 2019)

If you want to hear of honesty through one person and their music, then ‘Wild In The Hollow’ would be a great place to start. This record bleeds truth and brings you right back to the basics of this world. Built through counselling sessions, conversations that came about in difficult fashion, and travelling around the north-west of America meeting new people, this record comes to us from the very heart of  Seattle Singer/Songwriter Andrea Baker. The whole record feels very natural, portraying the nature of the North West.

Title track ‘Wild In The Hollow’ opens the album up, Baker showing off her soulful voice, building intensity throughout. Baker’s contemporary country sound really opens her target audience up; you find traces of beautiful traditional country music mixed with some elements of modern “pop-country” (mainly the good elements, if there are any) to create a really beautiful sound. There are catchy uplifting moments in ‘Nice But Different’ and spine-tingling softer moments in ‘Stories’. Baker obviously has a great ear for writing melodies; each song sticks in your mind, but she doesn’t sell out for cheap catchy hooks; she keeps her melodies sophisticated and well thought out at all times, which really is refreshing. You know that throughout every song the attention to detail Baker has given her songs is second to none.

Dark Moon Lullabye’ introduces a darker feel to the album. Every note is thought provoking, Baker singing the words “don’t be afraid, the devil ain’t coming tonight” in the chorus. At this point you really start to wonder where Baker is in her story and what she’s trying to get across. Baker keeps this album completely up for interpretation and does a hell of a good job at it.

I Spy’ is full of sass and bluesy swagger, Baker’s voice seeping with attitude. The arrangement of this track keeps your attention throughout, the middle 8 drops down to an arpeggiated piano line, before building back into the chorus, adding to the attitude and swagger that this track is full of.

The jazzy ‘Soldier’s Daughter’ is next. A cheeky track that you wouldn’t expect to fit into an album like this, but Baker seems to enjoy freshening things up a little bit which you cannot complain about. ‘Cock-A-Doodle-Ditty’ is on the same page as ‘Soldier’s Daughter’ taking us to a place we didn’t think we’d be going. This time we go back in time to between 1920-1940 with a punch up between ragtime, Dixieland and New Orleans Jazz. It shouldn’t really fit, but it somehow does.

Rag and Bone’ keeps your foot tapping before the melancholic trio of ‘Magdalena’, ‘Chrysalis’ and ‘How Deep the Father’s Love For Us’ bring the record to a close and a soft and touching note.

You could almost mistake this album for the soundtrack to a musical or film. The way Baker uses instrumentation to portray mood brings the songs to life and allows them to tell a story musically. The ups and downs that this album presents you with takes you on a journey and opens your mind up to the stories that are being told.

Andrea Baker gives us an alternate look at modern country in ‘Wild In The Hollow’, in a very similar vein to Alison Krauss. The arrangements, the instrumentation used, the lyrical topics and everything in between has been thought out so well. Baker’s voice holds a lovely country twang and she sings her songs so perfectly. You can finish this album and then listen to it straight after again and it doesn’t get old. The songs hold so much depth, that you will always find something new to appreciate.

A masterpiece that needs to be heard

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