AS the lead singer of Espers, Meg Baird has become one of the most distinctive singers of the American freak folk movement. Dear Companion, her first solo album, will only further this standing. Through her inclusion of traditional songs and covers, it might introduce her to a wider audience. By having just acoustic guitar or mellow keyboard as accompaniment, Baird’s beautiful voice wins centre stage, and through her eloquent delivery unleashes an impressive range of emotion and timbre. Baird’s selection of the title track and The Cruelty of Barbary Allen shows a discerning ear for rich, traditional storytelling. The covers are equally impressive, if not eclectic, moving from a rendition of the Jimmy Webb classic Do What You Gotta Do to the startling interpretation of John Dawson’s All I Ever Wanted, a song he wrote for the debut album by New Riders of the Purple Sage, a Grateful Dead offshoot. Even after repeated spins the freshness of Dear Companion remains undiminished and contains all the signs of being a quiet classic.
Dear Companion Meg Baird Spunk/ EMI