2 x 4fortyfour #2: Baum- Music for my Landlord

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.

I’m excited about doing this!
So do you want to say when?

Peter: Ok…now

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’

Elaine: Agreed

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
OK, ‘Girl’…
I also liked this
Very catchy
And I love the introduction of strings here

Peter: On the album as a whole Baum’s voice is always at the forefront

Elaine: Definitely
Great vocals

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

Elaine: Yes!
Bang on
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

Elaine: Snap!
This is my favourite track on the album
I love everything about it
The layered harmonies, the mournful strings

Peter: nods

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

Elaine: Haunting

Peter: Works so well

Elaine: Beautifully delicate but powerful too

Peter: Spine-tingling?

Elaine: Indeed

Peter: I adore the way the vocals build up towards the end

Elaine: Gorgeous!
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

Elaine: Wow…
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

Elaine: True
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
Ha, snap!
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…

Elaine: Haha!!
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

Elaine: Really?

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

Elaine: Yep
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

Peter: nods

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
Very talented

Peter: Well he said on Facebook that he’s back in Ireland in May I think!

Elaine: Brilliant
I am a big fan
Great choice

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
He’s incredible

More information on Baum is available in his official MySpace page. You can stream Music for my Landlord in it’s entirety below.

This entry was posted in Album Review, Listen, Opinion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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