”Stand still long enough and maybe you’ll find yourself.”
Sherman Baker is a keen observer, a songwriter able to carve out the right details for his songs about all our all-too-human stumbling and groping for connection. His new self-titled album [a steal at just $7 bucks] moves with unforced elegance, the small things of a day put into empathetic focus. This is the kind of album one returns to when they’re ready to sink into contemplation, meditative and melodic but never sleepy, a space where disrespected knaves and born riders can wheel about unafraid to show off a spot of melancholy.
Despite hailing from Sacramento, CA, Baker has an English lilt – Perspex Island/Globe of Frogs-era Robyn Hitchcock springs strongly to mind – melded with the finely carved bedroom symphonies of X/O period Elliott Smith. The care and time of his music’s gestation shows in the details, in the smooth, unexpected shifts and melodic sweetening that elevates his uniformly good songs to greatness more than a few times on his lovely eponymous album.
Baker has been an interesting, gifted singer-songwriter since his woefully overlooked 2004 debut, Carry Me Home, but the intervening decade has refined his talents and given his work an appealing romantic edge, a quiet glimmer in the corner of his naturally skeptical eye, a thimble of hope despite his understanding “how far we’ll go to get outside ourselves.” 10 years in, Baker now sits comfortably with contemporaries like Conor Oberst, Daniel Martin Moore, and Field Report.
DI asked Sherman to join our lil’ philosophical roundtable, and here’s what he had to say.
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you see the word “God”?
I don’t think there is one. How humans came to be, how our planet formed, and “The Big Bang” is incredible. Why it happened originally is a deeply intriguing question, obviously, but I don’t believe there is some being that cares about us one way or another or see evidence to the contrary. We are in this world together along with other animals and nature. Everything we consider important – God, religion, art, countries, power, money – are human constructs and the human race will one day die out just as so many other species have. We should try to be good to each other while we are here and that includes other animals and our planet.
Which has the better cosmology, Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?
I’m partial to Star Wars. Space is so vast that it is a good probability other planets with life exist. So, why not a Death Star or a Chewbacca? Star Trek is a fun show. I like both really, especially the most recent Star Trek movie.
Name one album that has spiritual resonance for you.
Radiohead’s OK Computer. It’s so heartfelt and musical but it also rocks, which is a rare combination in my opinion.
Woody Allen once said, “I don’t know the question but sex is definitely the answer.” So, what’s the question?
Right now for me the question is whether Woody Allen molested a young child. I really hope the accusations are not true but I have a sinking feeling that they might be, and if so I am going to have a hard time enjoying his work anymore. Harming children or victimizing people is something I can’t look past in anyone.
You can have a dinner party with any three people throughout human history. Who do you invite, what’s on the menu and what intoxicant do you share for dessert?
Hitler, Bin Laden, Nero. Tacos. Hemlock.