Dan Baker‘s single ‘Freeze Dried Coffee’ last month indicated an enigmatic and visceral power. His new EP, ‘From Corner’s Quiet’ provides a broader and even more compelling collection of deeply evocative tracks that have an ethereal beauty and presence. There is a folk-infused air to the songs, but such a description is too reductive – there is a broader brush at play on this canvas, a raw story telling power and an instrumental depth that brings to mind bands like Tindersticks.
Baker says of the EP:
Writing from the point of view of the outsider, the observer, has always appealed to the autodidactic parts of my nature. Relating apparent patterns of the experience of others to my own has, at times, helped to discern some clarity. This has led to a slightly gentler introspection and optimism. Unencumbered by judgement but not by hope, the outsider simply takes note from corners quiet.
Baker’s vocals in the opening track ‘Freeze Dried Coffee’ are soaked in a luxurious late night excess – red light rich, velvet and full of the vicissitudes of life rolled into just over five minutes of pain and delight. The accompanying instrumentation reeks of bar rooms and regret: distant wailing strings, simply strummed guitars and an air of restraint built on remorse.
‘Freeze Dried Coffee’ is truly a magnificent and imposing track – think of the steady pace and intensity of Tom Waits or Tindersticks, the stark visuals of Nick Cave and the mutterings of an old drunk in the corner of the local pub. Baker says of the track:
Having never been capable of any notable amount of grace or acceptance in the face of loss, I’ve managed to refine a formidable pallet for bitterness and longing. Such experience though has recently allowed for a more jovial brand of reflection upon my failures to resolve difficult situations. ‘Freeze Dried Coffee’ considers these situations and challenges with attachment while confessing to my shortcomings through smiling, coffee-stained teeth.
It is beautiful and elegiac, cathartic and raw. The bitter and razor sharp edge does not, however, define the rest of the EP. The dissolute air transforms into something a little more redemptive and expansive at times: a coat of many colours.
‘Angela and Miles’ sweeps over plucked strings and an acoustic guitar thrum while Baker’s voice is soaked in observational reflection. Rather than suffused with decay and opulence, this is a tender, soft-hearted track about lovers reconnecting that displays an aching vulnerability.
‘Take This Rose’ lifts up its skirts and moves forward at a faster pace with its rolling pace and weeping strings and subtle positivity: romantic and lush lyrics burnish the jaunting lilt. There is a stature and sincerity to the delivery: achingly beautiful, achingly raw.
‘Struggling Stranger’ with its steady beat and haunting, weeping strings has a folk lilt but a driving darker edge: a return to the dark depths of the dingy bar in a dark, dank alleyway. Baker’s singing has an ability to simmer then explode in a slow burning fire that roars with impatience and hurt.
Final track ‘Sabali’ has an extraordinary grace and power as it builds up to a string-swept vista and a massive crescendo before its dramatic denouement. Powerful and beautiful, and a fitting finale.
‘From Corners Quite’ is complex and full of innate contradictions: ranging from the depths of despair and rage to quietly romantic and reflective. The golden thread that connects it all is the rich timbre of Baker’s luxurious vocals and his lyrical splendour. Replete with regret and sorrow, leavened at times by a quite resilience, carried on the shoulders of impossibly ethereal music, this is a magnificent piece of work.
You can download the EP here or get directly from the link below: