James Lee Baker’s “Home Again” Is A Fantastic Experience
Here’s the thing about debut albums: they must be loud. I’m not talking about being musically loud, but to make an impact; your debut album has to prove people in the music that you have arrived and that they are going to remember your name. When you go to the stage, you must own it, and James Lee Baker seems to understand by the looks (and sound) of his debut, Home Again.
Country is a music genre where everything seems said and done, so it’s always refreshing to see someone taking that formula and using it in a way that can be fresh and appealing at the same time; this is what Baker did it at Home Again, and with great effect, I must say. The opening song, The Canadian River, is a great example of this: it’s a Country track through and through, clear of what it tries to convey and doing so in good fashion; there’s no hocus pocus, no trying to be overly elaborated and it works, which is the main goal of any musician.
I would like to give the ballads of the album a little bit of time because they have a sort of haunting atmosphere to them that is quite interesting. The first of the album is the second song, Two Cageless Birds, and I have to say that Baker’s really stands out in this particular track, like every good ballad should do. Then you have a total opposite song in Disappear for the Weekend, showcasing Baker and his band in a much more intense effort, which gives this album a greater dimension of variety while still maintaining certain cohesiveness, which is always hard to achieve.
Are you fan of the great eras of Westerns films of the 60s and 70s? Well, Baker has a few songs in Home Again that were made just for you. A Place for You & Me and Cowtown Blues are great demonstration of what tracks of that style should be, giving Baker the place to shine as a vocalist and at the same time keeping the song’s structure intact; solo albums can turn into self-pleasing experiences for many musicians, but Baker is a pro and has proven with this album that he can deliver without letting it get into his head.
One thing that got my attention in this album was certainly the ending. Stand Alone is such a classy way to finish a musical effort like this one; instead of going for the grand finale, Baker keeps it simple and intimate with this piano ballad, with his voice at the center stage. It reminds me to how I feel after reading a great book; that sense of yearning and completion that makes you think for a while after it has concluded.
Overall, James Lee Baker’s Home Again is a fantastic experience that you should take into consideration. Smooth, cohesive and with a modest touch of sophistication, this is a Country album that can stands on its own compared to the rest of modern releases, coming on top as the winner. – Kevin Tanza