Last month, I received an advanced copy of the debut recording of Sgt. Baker and the Clones. I’ve lived with this recording for awhile and like vinyl LPs of the 1970s, it became a part of my routine to listen to it in its entirety many times. It became a familiar part of my aural landscape, and like a friend it revealed layers that a casual once over couldn’t reveal.
The puppet master of this collection of twelve tracks (as illustrated in the wonderful cover art by Zoe Anderson) is Sgt. Baker himself who I know as Mike Baker - but who in reality is Mike Faria, an affable chap who possesses a fantastic set of singing lungs and a penchant for writing that knows no bounds when it comes to articulating his craft. Couple that with the now well known grandmaster of audio recordings George Dussault (Galilee Productions) and you get a set of competent and alluring material that withstands scrutiny and sets its own agenda.
Like a time capsule, Faria takes his story from the culmination of songwriting that led to this long overdue documentary of his journey as a songwriter and musician. The track order appears to (whether or not intentionally) take us through the pages of a worn journal filled with notations of a talent coming of age.
The album begins with the songs Atlas and DMT which to these ears sounds like the stuff of 1990s alternative radio with it’s articulate grunge guitar riffs and Faria’s effective sweat soaked growl.
Next comes the tune, Madness, which places more emphasis on soulful wailing and a sense of spiritual jam band licks and is followed by Stick Fishin’ with the more than competent rhythmic shuffle of drummer Dewey Raposo whose performances on this collection is top notch and driving.
Of course this record wouldn’t have seemed complete without some contribution from Faria’s partner and best friend. Amanda Salemi (Consuelo's Revenge). who co-wrote two of the songs and lent her golden pipes on three of the tracks. Petty Dollar is an almost reggae inspired riff with a mournful chorus. My Own Version returns again to something that could have come out of Seattle during its musical renaissance and the album’s closer Trouble, with its haunting pizzicato strings (Adam and Tim Nunes) lets her share verses with Faria in a nod to their duo as Wake and Baker.
I can’t say enough about the obvious care and quality performances this troop of musicians pours into these tracks. I could barely mention all the wonderful contributions that make this record worth your time in the space provided here, but there are many intricate ingredients in this sonic stew that will leave you fulfilled but not full.
The official release of this record is Saturday October 8th at The Parlour in Providence with special guests Consuelo's Revenge, Brainfruit, and Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. I would think this to be one hell of a party.
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