James Lee Baker: “Home Again” – a rustic journey of self-reflection

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A classically trained musician, James Lee Baker’s fingerstyle guitar playing is rich and melodic, as embraces open tunings to create an unconventional but welcoming sound and timbre to his playing. For his Country-flavored Americana album, “Home Again”, Baker called in a set of talented studio session musicians, from across Denver, Los Angeles, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Any fan of Baker’s has seen the superb range of his musical skills and talents. Whilst it was easy to see the various styles and tones in his earlier works, it is brilliantly clear in this album that Baker can merge all of his influences and come up to the occasion with immensely great songs and performances. “Home Again” sees James Lee Baker creating earthy and powerful music that speaks to the soul and proves that this is a great artist, and one to easily fall in love with.

This is an album that reflects on the poignant beauty and frail melancholy of the human condition, as well as the strength, hope and love we are all able to carry inside of us. In a way this record is timeless, its use of watery steel guitars and subdued Dobro, fiddle and harmonica sounds leads to beautiful and lush soundscapes that you can find yourself getting lost in for spin after spin.

The guitar playing, as electrifying as they can be, are also surprisingly tasteful, rather than blurring into the bland pentatonic masturbation and pinch harmonic flash that defines the pseudo guitar heroes.

The guitar passages here, function as natural extensions on the songs and help to further establish what this album is about. Simply put, right from track one, “Home Again” sounds like one of the pinnacles of Baker’s impressive catalogue. The 10 tracks also establish James Lee Baker as a vocal powerhouse.

His earthy, soulful Americana-styled voice smoothing out just enough to make this album an all-genre listen. Opener “The Canadian River” sweeps gently, displaying some of Baker’s most mature songwriting. A song this spiritual coaxes the invitation to sit somewhere your feet don’t touch ground and sway them within the air of redemptive nostalgia.

“Two Cageless Birds”, is another damn good listen, with its gentle acoustic chord progressions and Baker’s vivid storytelling. “Disappear For The Weekend”, ups the rhythmic ante with a fleshed out electric arrangement, showcasing the singer-songwriter’s versatility.

However there can be no doubt that Baker is at his absolutely best when delivering stripped down emotive ballads, which he so finely does on “If I Stay Here With You”, “A Place For You & Me”, “That Look In Your Eyes” and “Stand Alone”. These tracks are more than enough to warrant your time listening to this album, as Barker’s voice becomes an uncanny instrument in captivating your attention.

However there are many outstanding tracks and performances on this album. Among them “The First Time” and “More This Time”, which capture the spirit of an artist, who delivers a soulful, folk and blues-driven sound with deep lyrical undertones of life and love. James Lee Baker takes you on a rustic journey of self-reflection from beginning to end on “Home Again”.

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