‘The Singer Songwriter’s Last Stand’ by Maurice Baker(April 04, 2012)
Even a cursory listen to ‘The Singer Songwriter’s Last Stand’ album by Maurice Baker reinforces the overriding essence of his work - sharp, witty, perceptive lyrics delivered with a distinctive voice that holds just the right tone of aggrieved angst. But you won’t stop at a ‘quick listen’ - once you hear ‘The Singer Songwriter’s Last Stand’ you will play it again and again. And were the album not sufficient, Maurice has also employed his mean turn of phrase to produce a compelling book that sits alongside the album.
The songs are unrefined and natural and that’s exactly how they’re meant to be. Their unadulterated edge pulls you into their alluring, questing narratives and holds your attention. They span the influences of rootless social iconoclasts such as Woody Guthrie and Seasick Steve and antagonistic life-observers such as Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. And it’s true to say that Maurice the singer-songwriter is perfectly at home in that company – and in case you’re curious that’s the praise it’s meant to be.
The book ‘The Singer-Songwriter’s Last Stand’ is fact-based but fictional, and focuses on Maurice’s travels through his musical landscape. It’s also filled with insightful, poignant and droll observations, and not a little irony. A song from the album inspires each chapter in the book - although as Maurice is at pains to point out, the connection isn’t necessarily literal. The story concerns Alwyn Stevens (Maurice’s alter-ego) and Arthur Grimsby (a ghostly musician) who, meeting one Newcastle morning, engage in a road-trip of discovery.
There are some remarkable songs on the album. ‘Risk of Explosion’ is one that immediately hits the spot – lyrics, vocals, melody - all catch the ear and make you think ‘I’ve been there’. And for many of us the same will apply to ‘My Old Friend’ with its powerful emotive delivery and the sorrowful ‘Knocking Down Kingston Bridge’. There’s a reflective almost anthemic feel to ‘Down By The Station’ and ‘Hard Travelling Man’ with their inspired melody hooks and agonizing stories. While an infectious intense blues grandeur holds ‘The Gambler’; there’s the deliciously satirical narrative of the eponymous anecdote ‘The Singer-Songwriter’s Song’ – these are all songs to savour.
On the album The Singer-Songwriter’s Last Stand’ Maurice sings and plays guitar banjo and bouzouki. He’s also aided by Dan and Sam Burt who between them handle electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, percussion and backing vocals. The book ‘The Singer-Songwriter’s Last Stand’ and the album are available online at Maurice’s web site www.songtales co.uk – so go there and get them. You will not be disappointed.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll