This brush with death and the ensuing fallout has, understandably (or perhaps not...I certainly can't, and don't want to, imagine what it must have been like), profoundly scarred Baker...and not just in a physical sense. His songs are littered with subtle references. But what I really love about his music is its simplicity, the lyrics showing us a man who revels in the joy of being here, of the small details in life. At times this feels not just grateful, but euphoric.
The whole set was excellent, including those songs from his first album, Mercy, with which I have yet to familiarise myself (there's a story here...foolishly, in a misguidedly British attempt to be polite, I turned down Sam's offer to send Mercy to me after reading my review of Pretty World. I have seriously been kicking myself ever since!)...but which I have now ordered.
Sam Baker is endearingly rubbish at self-promotion. At the merch stand, there were no t-shirts (as there are none in existence yet!), nor had he brought Mercy along (which I had planned to buy at the show). I held back for a while, waiting for the queue to go down, in order that I could go up and say my hellos. He was a lovely, warm man who was happy to chat, sign a poster (which I'd pinched off the wall!) almost entirely illegibly, and tell me "I really like the way you write". Wow! I replied "Thank you. I really like the way you write too"...speaking of his songs and not the aforementioned handwriting.
This night was what a gig should be, and more people really should have heard of this man. I wish I had more clout, as I would love to join Bob Harris in doing some championing here. I have included one download (which I found at another source online) below for you to get a better idea of what Sam Baker sounds like (you can hear further tracks on MySpace), but please please buy his albums...I couldn't recommend his music more highly. He told us during the gig that, after Mercy was released he would sell a copy, on average, around once every 120 days. He was over the moon with this at the time. Go on, help make his day a little more regularly!