Prolific songwriter Michael Baker returns with his third studio album How Come You Sleep. The expectation is high due to outstanding releases such as Keys to the Kingdom EP and Salt. For this new collection of songs, he teamed up with long-time friend Andrew Stuart- Buttle (a Multi-Instrumentalist and band member with Lucy Rose) to produce this album.
During the creation of the album, he wanted to create something honest and relatable. Baker explains, “I’ve been getting letters and messages throughout the year from people saying that my songs have got them through a very hard time, and I don’t know how to reply to them other than as if I’d known them my whole life. That’s the way that I would do it. I hope that my music gives them as much as it’s given me”.
Opening up comes “Yellow Little Mood”. It begins with subtle electronic elements, as shown throughout last year’s album Salt. It creates a relaxing atmosphere which is soon joined by Baker’s acoustic guitar and accompanying electric guitar. With the tone set, his captivating vocal presence joins in with the opening lines, “Does it tie a bow round to talk pretty / I suppose that our bones are not meant to rattle”. As always, his storytelling manner in which he shares his words never fails to impress. It is a trait that has always shone with each song he creates and will continue to do so throughout How Come You Sleep.
‘How Come You Sleep’ shines a light yet again on Michael Baker’s outstanding storytelling qualities
Next is “Caught In The Crossfire”, which stands out due to Baker’s delicate and emotional tone. This song flows effortlessly from start to finish. It also includes some attention-stealing harmonies to add extra layers to its captivating sound. It is difficult not to get lost within this song. Following on is “How Come You Sleep” which offers more of his storytelling qualities.
“Fold Your Hands” offers more outstanding vocals, layered with a soothing atmosphere created by Baker and Stuart- Buttle. This combination makes up the foundations of what makes this album special. As these elements intertwine, it creates an irresistible emotive tone that many people connect to when listening. It is easy to tell these musicians craft songs with a personal and relatable element. “Punch Drunk Fists” and “Houses” offer more of their beautiful audio magic at work.
There are no weak moments throughout How Come You Sleep. However, there is one song that continues to stand out with each playthrough. It takes something special to do so and “Today” has that extra quality. It opens up with delicate use of the keys to set up the mood. Reflecting the tone comes Bakers vocals with the lines “I hear your whispers in the morning / I can see you in my dreams / So no more drinking through the daytime darling / Well I can dream”. Not only does his way with words shine yet again, but the way they are delivered does so too.
Here is a song that is all about Bakers voice which steals the spotlight. It begins with a low key sound that lets the listener focus on the story. The way the lyrics are delivered feels like there is more to its tale, maybe something personal. It could be the choice of words, especially with part of the chorus, “I’m gonna let today affect me in my own way honey / Let the tears rain / Let the tears rage”. Or maybe it is because of the way he shares lines such as “Feel like saying that I’m sorry”. Whatever the reason, it gives this song a quality, making it essential for listening.
Seeing things out is “Lightly Looms”. It offers a similar vibe to all the songs before it, which is not a bad thing at all. Overall, it wraps up yet another outstanding album by Michael Baker. It may not offer anything new musically, but it is all about the quality of the songwriting. Here is an artist who understands how to connect with his work and write with genuine honesty.
As a bonus, there is a deluxe edition of How Come You Sleep. These feature a combination of Live and seven-inch versions of songs from the album (with the additional track “Baby Books”). It is highly recommended you give these a listen as it is a real showing of how good Michael Baker sounds. The tracks “Fold Your Hands” and “Today” highlight his exceptional musical qualities. If you are left wanting more, don’t worry as there is another album already in the works.