The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS -

Land of Doubt ★★★★ Self-re­leased

By now, we should know what to ex­pect, but five al­bums in Sam Baker can still sur­prise. Bent but not bro­ken by a ter­ror­ist bomb in Peru some time ago, the Texan song­writer’s work dis­tills his ex­pe­ri­ences, both ob­served and imag­ined, old and new, into a ele­giac ar­ray of taut, min­i­mal­ist word pic­tures set to sub­tle and or­nate ar­range­ments. Pro­ducer Neil­son Hub­bard and gui­tarist Will Kim­brough layer the sound invit­ingly, car­pet­ing the songs for Baker’s sin­gu­lar vo­cals, which are not so much sung as spo­ken with halt­ing in­ten­sity. Ev­ery­thing, from the brood­ing sleeve de­sign to Dan Mitchell’s omi­nous horn on the clos­ing ti­tle track, evokes this world of pain and prom­ise, of love pro­fessed and love re­jected. There are 15 tracks, in­clud­ing five spritely in­stru­men­tals which off­set the of­ten gloomy mood. The songs are com­pelling, none more so than The Feast of St Valen­tine and Leave. sam­bak­er­mu­

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