Published Apr 16, 2019When you pack East coast venues with fans that holler your orchestral indie rock anthems to the rafters, how do you up the ante from there? If you're Tim Baker, you confront that lofty glass ceiling by stripping it all back, as the frontman of on-hiatus Hey Rosetta! does on his debut solo LP, Forever Overhead.
No, this isn't a nakedly barebones alt-folk album, à la Johnny Cash's American Recordings or a '90s MTV Unplugged session. Instead, Baker pares things down just enough to evoke his earliest influences: the Elton John, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne and Van Morrison LPs that his parents exposed him to as a boy.
Back half Forever Overhead highlights "Two Mirrors" and "Dance" both feature bouncingly melancholy keys worthy of Joel's "Piano Man." Hair-raising staccato bass notes and vivid lyrics about the "reckless running of your heart" will, meanwhile, spark memories of Morrison's brown-eyed muse. And the threadbare, Celtic-tinged "Spirit" will win over fans of Jackson Browne and Cat Stevens.
Better still: when the climactic hand drums and high-pitched guitar chords of "All Hands" kick in. The sauntering, waltz-worthy rhythm and bellowing horns of "Hideaway" will also have you humming along. And then there are the thundering drums and sighing backing vocals of "Pools," which will leave you swooning. Fun as it is to hear Baker tap into early influences on other tracks, these particular songs show him transcending those muses.
It all amounts to a solo debut that rises to Baker's best work with Hey Rosetta! To paraphrase the title, this album captures Baker's forever effort to reach a high bar, and his successful rise to the occasion. (Arts & Crafts)