People keep telling us that music journalism is dead. Readers can instantly download and listen to music so why would they care what other people think? Here at 4fortyfour we think they do care but that, sometimes, music journalism and criticism isn’t interesting enough. That’s why we’ve launched 2 x 4fortyfour – DID YOU SEE WHAT WE DID THERE? – a new type of music review.
In this series, two of our contributors will listen to a record individually, then listen together while chatting over GChat or some other means of instant communication. The (almost) unedited version of that conversation will form the review. It may wander off on tangents but hopefully you, the reader, will get a better sense of the record by the end of it as there will be more than just one person’s opinion.
Baum is a Swiss artist who recently recorded an album in New York’s The Cutting Room called ‘Music for my Landlord’. The studio band consists of some very well known and respected musicians. Here is the transcript of a conversation between Elaine and Peter where they simultaneously listen to the album and share their thoughts through Google chat.
Elaine: Done. Do you want to do the intro considering you discovered Baum and had him play at Boyle’s?
Peter: Yeah well ok sure
I initially asked David Hope if he fancied playing the ‘Live at Boyle’s’ gig. He asked if Baum could also be put on the bill. While not knowing a whole lot about him I trusted David’s judgement and am very happy I did. Baum’s intense and passionate performance was probably the best I witnessed at any gig for a long time.
We’ll see how good I am at multi-tasking
Listening and typing
Elaine: Ha, me too!
Well I love this track (‘Mrs Adams’)
I can see why he opens the album with it
It has a great feel
Peter: Yeah i agree, it’s a nice album opener
Elaine: You know what it reminds me of? Goo Goo Dolls circa Dizzy Up the Girl
Peter: Yeah I get that too
Elaine: And his voice isn’t far from John Rzeznic’s either
Peter: It’s probably the most radio friendly track on the album and a potential ‘hit’
Peter: I do have that Goo Goo Dolls album but wasn’t a big fan to be honest
Elaine: I was a massive fan when I was a young ‘un!
Peter: Some of the tracks were fine
Elaine: This track has a real melodic pop-rock feel
I am very impressed
I also liked this
And I love the introduction of strings here
Peter: On the album as a whole Baum’s voice is always at the forefront
Peter: There are some talented musicians on the record but they allow Baum’s vocals and stories to be the focus point of the tracks
Especially with this track ‘Girl’
After seeing Baum live in Boyle’s he is an intense singer, full of passion
Elaine: That certainly comes across
I watched the videos that you uploaded to YouTube and you can see that
Peter: But he can do delicate as well
Elaine: Yeah, like on the next two tracks
I really like ‘Girl’ the more I listen to it
Having headphones on now definitely adds to it too
Peter: It’s the warm strings that make this track for me
The instrumentation is actually very layered
Love how it builds there too (3min 14sec)
Peter: Yeah and it’s such a polished sound
Without being too over produced
Elaine: And there’s some great riffs thrown in there
I like Adam Levy’s work
But I’m a fan of Norah Jones’ releases so I’m biased
Peter: The drumming on the album is amazing as well
Elaine: Yeah it is
Peter: But having Jeff Buckley’s drummer playing on your album will draw Jeff Buckley comparisons
Elaine: Well you know me Peter- anything Jeff Buckley related draws my interest!
Peter: I’m going to make a bold statement and say ‘Couldn’t Hurt You More’ is the best song I’ve heard in years
This is my favourite track on the album
I love everything about it
The layered harmonies, the mournful strings
Elaine: Sheer brilliance
Peter: The intricate backing vocals of Misty Boyce
Elaine: Reminiscent of Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan on O I think
Peter: Yeah i thought so too
Peter: Works so well
Elaine: Beautifully delicate but powerful too
Peter: I adore the way the vocals build up towards the end
He played this in Boyle’s right?
Peter: Yeah he did, he needed the lyrics at hand because the song was written in the studio
Where the album was recorded
Misty Boyce is credited as co-writer
Elaine: I checked out her stuff
She may get a “Nothing But The Girl(s)” mention!
Peter: Apparently it’s a tradition of The Cutting Room Studios that a recording artist should write a song in the studio for the album
Elaine: I can’t believe it was that one!
It’s so polished!
Peter: Remarkable how good the song is and it was written in 4 hours
I also love this track (‘Bloody Goodbye’)
Another highlight for me
But I’m a sucker for an emotional ballad
Peter: Yeah for me too. I know it’s kinda stupid to say but I think the album should have finished with this song
It’s just because it follows ‘Couldn’t Hurt You More’
You have two very emotional powerful tunes side by side
There’s some great guitar riffs on this
A real bluesy feel to the song
Peter: Yeah and the vocals again are so powerful here
You believe every word Baum sings
It’s almost impossible to not feel the passion
Elaine: There’s plenty of passion there alright
He takes on a gravelly tone here too
Which I love
A little bit sexy I might be bold enough to say!
Peter: Yeah, well…eh…moving on…
Right, calm down Elaine…
Peter: While the last two tracks are immense I really love the feel of ‘I like It’
Elaine: Yeah it’s needed here
Picks things up again
This is infectious!
Love the percussion here
Peter: While the lyrics are very simplistic the percussion and the guitars are really pleasant
It reminds me of the songs on a Tracy Chapman album
Elaine: Yeah, it’s uplifting
You can hear the influences here alright
Peter: Post ‘Fast Car’ but before she went really boring
Elaine: Adam Levy worked with Chapman too, right?
Peter: Did he? I’m not sure
Elaine: Yeah he did. I think so anyway
Peter: ‘Matters of the Heart’ by Tracy Chapman from 1992 has the same feel as this track
Elaine: I know it but not enough to say for sure
I thought the lyrics might feel repetitive here but the percussion and melody save it
Peter: Yeah I get that too
This might not work if we keep on agreeing to everything here!
Right, there’s 10 tracks on the album so at half-way point how are we feeling about it?
Elaine: I have to say, I am a big fan
Peter: I’m glad it’s not just me
Elaine: There’s very few things I hate about it
In fact, there’s none
As I said, I felt some of the lyrics were getting a little bit repetitive in places, but the musicianship saves it
Peter: I do often wonder when I find amazing music if I’m in a minority
Elaine: You’re not wrong on this guy
Peter: Especially considering Baum has yet to get any publishing deal for the album
Elaine: I love ‘One Day You Will Return’
Another highlight for me
That’s the one Neil Young liked
He used it on some campaign according to the bio you posted on YouTube
Peter: Ah, for me it’s the first average track on the album
Peter: It’s still a really good track which includes everything good about Baum but it doesn’t hit the highlights of the previous tracks
Elaine: I liked it
I liked that it had more of a folk feel to it
Peter: Yeah it does, especially with the backing vocals at the end of the song
Elaine: What about ‘We Should Be Dancing’?
Peter: I love the vocals here
And how they progress through the verses
It does however verge close to something Chris Rea would release
Elaine: Yeah I can see where you get that
I love the picking style on the intro to ‘She Smiles’
Peter: There’s a lot of tracks that deal with different aspects of relationships
Elaine: Indeed. I really like these lyrics
Another great track
Again, it has a Goo Goo Dolls feel for me
Especially on some of their acoustic tracks on Dizzy Up the Girl
Peter: Yeah ok I get that on this track too
Elaine: It has a lovely chord progression
I loved delicately picked acoustic tracks like this
Peter: I mentioned earlier the lyrics are a tad simplistic but they tell a story and with his vocals he really draws you into the stories
Elaine: Yeah that’s really apparent here
And his voice is so much softer here
The harmonies really compliment it
Which lady is this?
Do you know?
Peter: It’s Annekei. Again with the delicate backing vocals we’re into Damien Rice comparisons again
I might be totally off on this, but the first thing I thought of when I heard the intro to ‘Blue Wheel Turning’ was Bryan Adams!
The guitar riff is similar to one of his songs
The name is on the tip of my tongue…
Peter: I really like ‘Blue Wheel Turning’ too, hmmm Bryan Adams you say
I suppose if Bryan Adams got injected with talent!
Elaine: Just on the intro mind you
Hopefully he won’t read this
Ah you’re lovely really Bryan…
Peter: Again the percussion here is spot on
It’s hard to fault the musicianship at all
Elaine: It really is
Great riffs throughout too
Again with a bluesy feel
But the percussion really stands out
Peter: Actually Baum and this album are difficult to place into a genre
I suppose it’s a singer-songwriter album but it’s bigger than that
Elaine: I’m gonna say folk-rock
With undercurrents of blues
Or at least it definitely has bluesy tones
Peter: The album finishes on a high
With very positive lyrics
Elaine: Yeah this is great
‘Hope That We Once Had’ is a great place to start with Baum
His vocals are top here
Pure but powerful
And the harmonies, again, are great
Elaine: I really am a sucker for layered male-female harmonies though
Peter: Yeah there’s something about the male-female harmonies that work
Elaine: Did I hear a harmonica earlier on in this track?
Peter: I’m not sure
Elaine: I could be hearing things
Nope, it’s there
Great picking style again
Peter: Was it me or did that 43 minutes simply fly by?
Elaine: Yes! That did fly
I really like this album Peter
I want to see this guy live
Peter: Well he said on Facebook that he’s back in Ireland in May I think!
I am a big fan
Peter: When I saw him live I actually felt privileged to be in the presence of someone with so much talent
So much passion
With songwriting of the highest quality
Elaine: Yeah, some great lyrics in there
Percussion really is top notch as well
I really enjoyed this
Peter: Well I enjoyed this too
I’m glad he has at least 1 new fan!
Elaine: Hopefully he’ll get a lot more
If there’s justice!
Peter: fingers crossed
Yes if there’s justice
We really should be seeing this guy in the Olympia or something
Elaine: Hopefully before long we will be
More information on Baum is available in his official MySpace page. You can stream Music for my Landlord in it’s entirety below.