Album Review: Simon Baum – Better EP (Winner NMF Ep. 46)

One of the steady characteristics of ETTG has been our love for acoustic singer songwriters. But the thing is, as many as there are, not all singer songwriters have that special quality that makes them stand out. Simon Baum has the quality of songwriter that allows you to connect with each line. He just sounds like someone you could have a coffee with and talk about things. He seems approachable and genuine.

The Better EP begins with “Bridges,” the single that got our attention with Baum’s work. “Someday we’ll build bridges over walls” has a pretty clear political message to it. But the song doesn’t carry with it the biting cynicism of much political commentary these days. Instead, it’s a serious contribution to thoughtful empathy; we’ve just got to love, Baum implores. It’s a timely and powerful message.

The title track “Better” is an acoustic solo track that has a rhythmic quality to it. When the vocal harmonies come into the track, it gives it a special texture that really works. The syncopation and message don’t really have a style or era; they just make you lean in a little bit. The impetus of the song is the constant message of self improvement. Baum encourages you to be yourself rather than pushing yourself to be “better.”

“Firelight” utilizes a fingerpicking style that works well with Baum’s style. It’s a thoughtful song about adventure and dreaming about a potential relationship. “You don’t see me dreaming of the firelight” has such a cool connotation, thinking of the proverbial moth to the flame. The organ on this track really sounds great. I’d like to hear it earlier in the track, actually. The final track “It’s all for you” is a love song, but it’s not clear if it’s romantic love or maybe familial love. In any event, it’s one of those tracks you feel as much as you hear. There are some electronic elements that give the track a different sort of texture, but one that might be a promising direction for Baum’s future.

All told, Baum is an artist we’ll be watching in the immediate future. His songwriting chops have that “next level” and as his opportunties (and experiences) scale to meet it, he has a promising career ahead. There are a few comparisons to be made here, but honestly someone like Sleeping at Last might be the best example for Baum’s trajectory. The thoughtful lyrics and audacious sonic structures provide both an enjoyable introductory EP as well as an exciting course for the future.

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