The first live album by this gritty Texan singer-songwriter was recorded at the Imagine Event Center, Buffalo NY in July 2018. The twelve tunes draw upon material from all five of Baker’s studio albums to date, and coincides with the fifteenth anniversary of his debut, ‘Mercy’.
“It was a solo show, just me and the guitar, and a small piece of wood that I could tap my boot on”, Baker says and the sparseness of the arrangements together with the practically spoken word delivery are what make it stand out.
He sings about alcoholism, car wrecks, racism, war, drug addiction and a mother’s abandonment but, since the characters in his songs are resilient, the messages are not entirely desperate or despairing.
As a survivor of a terrorist bomb while touring Peru, Baker knows all about personal struggle and has more that his fair share of demons to exorcise. He had to endure many bouts of surgery and take many pain pills but ,even so, he lost feeling in his hands forcing him to play rudimentary guitar upside-down. The song Broken Fingers is about the ordeals he faced.
After fighting fears then rage, he ultimately learned about forgiveness and his story songs are ostensibly all about overcoming suffering. This makes the songs celebrations of life even though there is still plenty of unfiltered bleakness and no concessions to prettiness or humour.
There are numerous devils in the details of his lyrics so, while it’s no easy listen, the fierce honesty of his observations is resolute and fearless.
Sam Baker’s website