Considering how far we have come since the singer-songwriter became a staple part of the modern music canon, how many songs have been written largely around one voice and one guitar, you might be forgiven for thinking that there wasn’t much more to do with such a format. But as is always the case it is not the format but the creativity of the artist, the singer not the song. Eliot Dean Baker is proof of just such an idea and using just the basic ingredients he is able to create something rather compelling.
Following a slow burning journey from gentle picking, emotive strings and a spacious beat he manages to steer the song along a dramatic and dynamic path mainly though deft construction rather than a layering on of overt and obvious sonic textures. The song does gain weight as it travels to its sudden conclusion but only slightly, the odd bit of guitar embellishment here, some beguiling vocals there but largely this is about the song, the vocal delivery and the way he alone wanders between quiet atmospheres and triumphant crescendo.
My go to artists for songs such as this are often the likes of Damien Rice or David Gray, not exactly break through acts but neither have been bettered that often and their ability to do so much with such a sparse musical tool kit is reflected in the way Eliot Dean Baker works too. Baker weaves the same smoke-like and transient sounds around him, the same air of the otherworldly, an ethereal grace matched buy a very human condition. I’m not saying on the strength of this one song messers. Rice and Gray should set an extra place at the table just yet but they might want to make sure that there is a coffee brewing in case guests do drop by.