17 Aug 2022
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Brian Baker - EP Review: Open Up Your Heart

27 Jul 2022 // A review by Brendan McCarthy

Brian Baker is an established Kiwi songwriter whose career spans 40 years and is still going strong.

His latest release is a 5-track EP entitled Open Up Your Heart and it brilliantly showcases Brian's musical experience and the journey that his art has taken him on. Tracking and production on this release are both excellent due to Brian owning and managing his own recording studio called 'The Bakery'. Every track is perfectly constructed and reflects what has to be hours of painstaking work.

The opening title track is a fine reggae groove that combines electronic drums and samples with great vocal melodies and the first taste of Brian's magic guitar playing. It's a great laid back feel and would be a perfect set opener in his live show. The track is a new arrangement of a song Brian originally wrote back in 2018 so I am keen to hear and compare both versions.

New Kind of Blue launches with some great bass playing reminiscent of The Cure and Icehouse. With just the right amount of compression the bass drives this second track along and helps to showcase more of Brian's subtle guitar playing. Definitely a great track for driving. I can feel the wind in my hair with this one up loud.

Track 3 Fool is my favourite and here is why:

This song is a master-class combination of NZ and Aussie songwriting styles.

Brian has spent a considerable amount of time in both countries during his music career and I love the combination of the experience he has gained from both sides of the Tasman.

This song is very Crowded House in the way that it is arranged. The music glides between the bass and guitar hooks that open the song into a completely different acoustic direction for the verses. Well-structured chord changes throughout the verses allow the song to rise into a natural minor drop for the chorus. This is the "Crowdy" bit.

You should have a listen. It's really good.

The changes in the bridge section are where the master-class action resides.

Again - go check it out.

I feel like Brian just can't help himself and there just has to be a Guitar Solo. But hey  he is damn good at it so why not. There is another cracker solo here and an ad lib outro to finish a great song.

A version of a Tori Amos song Cornflake Girl is up next. There is a story behind this and it goes something like this:

Brian says: “We were doing a live TV show as 'The Makers' in Sydney back in the early 1990’s”. “And the other musical guest on the show was Tori Amos doing a piano vocal performance of Cornflake Girl.

We were blown away by her immense talent and this particular song. I’ve always wanted to do my own take on it so here it is”.

The EP closes out with Blue Water Meditation and it's an excellent instrumental that allows Brian to unwind with some more of his guitar skills. It's a cruise.

I have to admit that I had not heard of Brian's music before raising my hand for this review.

I am now a new fan.

Brian is an excellent musician that takes his craft seriously and puts the extra effort into making his music shine.

I will definitely be checking out his back catalogue and following along with future releases.

Well done Sir.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Brian Baker

Brian Baker is a singer-songwriter/producer with a passion for the environment and Buddhism, themes evident in his songs, music, and videos. He plays guitar, bass, piano, and keyboards, drums, and percussion, sings, and relishes his production duties, on his own songs and other artists’ works.

After moving to Australia from New Zealand in 1980, he performed with many Australian bands, securing a Sony recording deal with The Ones in 1986 after signing a publishing deal with Rondor Music. Around this time he scored his first song placement on the second Un Canny X-Men album, What You Give Is What You Get. After writing and recording top 20 single Heart with The Ones he went on to co-write the score for the movie Rikki and Pete with Eddie Rayner from Split Enz.

Eddie and Brian continued to work together as The Makers, releasing 2 CDs through Warner, East West label, including the hit single and video Big Picture. Together with drummer Michael Barker, they toured Australia and New Zealand with the B52's.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Brian Baker

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