“Absolutely fantastic reaction to the Sam Baker track I played last Saturday. He is a major artist. ‘Pretty World‘ is magnificent – one of the great albums of the year.” – Bob Harris
Twenty-one years ago, Austin songwriter Sam Baker was riding on a train in Peru when a terrorist bomb was detonated in his carriage. Many people died, including a child sitting opposite him, and Sam was seriously injured, enduring seventeen reconstructive operations over ten years. Sam doesn’t understand how he survived. He wrote about it in the song ‘Steel’ on his 2004 debut album, ‘Mercy’.
“God have mercy
I believe my heart has failed
Smoke rises through a hole in the roof
The dead say fare thee well.”
Sam began writing stories in an effort to make some sense out of the chaos in his mind. He also re-evaluated his songwriting. “My prior songwriting was pretty boilerplate: ‘I love you, you love me, you don’t love me.’ Afterwards those songs didn’t make as much sense to me. I was a better observer of other people and how they lived their lives.” The bomb damaged Sam’s hearing and he now plays guitar left-handed. At times, he almost talks through his songs, with his gravel tones inflecting deep humanity into the stories he is telling.
“What emerges from these tales of tenant farmers, teenage rites of passage and serving girls is a kind of radio play, set to an understated soundtrack by Baker’s hand-picked band, full of real-life characters and told by a parched, honest voice that makes their situations all the more compelling.” – The Herald
These days, Sam is one of the biggest underground Americana names of recent years. His debut album gained much critical acclaim, largely by word-of-mouth. Within days of its release in Europe, his ‘Pretty World’ album was sitting at the Number 1 slot on the Euro Americana Chart, compiled from returns sent in by over sixty Americana music journalists, radio show presenters and internet sites in the UK, Eire, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
“You don’t really need to know that Sam Baker suffered a near-death experience at the hands of Peruvian terrorists to appreciate the finely chiselled, struggle-to-survive poetry of his songs, although it may help. Baker’s voice is a rasping soft brush on words, hewn from experience and washed with tears, seeking reconciliation with a world that turned beauty into bloody mayhem.” – The Irish Times, 5/5
“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.” – Americana UK
After hosting him at The Luminaire last September, we’re very pleased to announce Sam Baker’s show on Sunday 11 September 2011
8.15 Sam Baker (90)
Cecil Sharp House
2 Regent’s Park Road
London NW1 7AY
Walking map from Camden Tube
[Click here for media press kit]