Independent pop rock artist Kurt Baker is scheduled to release his latest album After Party Friday. The 12-song record is, like his label mate Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’, another surprisingly enjoyable musical diamond in the rough in the year’s field of new albums. The four singles that the album has already turned out more than prove the noted statement true. They are but a snapshot of what makes After Party so enjoyable. ‘Used To Think,’ which comes late in the album’s run, shows in its own way what makes the album so engaging and entertaining. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Should’ve Been The One,’ the 36-minute record’s penultimate entry, does its own share to show what makes the album stand out. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Waiting For You,’ which comes a little earlier in the album, is another notable addition to the record. When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its entries, the whole of After Party proves itself to be a presentation whose arrival listeners will happily celebrate.
Kurt Baker’s new solo album After Party is a wonderful new offering from the independent singer-songwriter. It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners with its musical and lyrical content alike. The singles that the record has produced leave no doubt about that. They are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable, too. It boasts plenty of entertaining and engaging songs other than the noted entries, not the least of which is the song ‘Used To Think.’ The musical arrangement featured in this song is a unique presentation in itself. It mixes elements of music from the 1980s and 50s for its whole. The 1950s style sound is more evident in the choruses, with the simple, infectious calls of “ooh-ah, baby” while the more 80s pop rock style sounds are more commonplace in the verses. The pairing of the sounds does not seem like it would work on paper, but in hearing them together here, they make for such a fun song. When they join with the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as Baker looking back on life and learning from his experiences, but doing so with a positive mindset, the song becomes even more accessible and enjoyable for audiences.
The noted lyrical topic is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, in which Baker sings, “I used to think that I wanted money/I used to think that I wanted fame/And looking back/Though it may seem funny/I used to think that was just a game/I used to think/That maybe one day/You might get up and go/I used to think/But now I know.” The noted theme is continued in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I spent a lot of money on used records/I spent a lot of money on cheap beer/But in the end I got no regrets ‘cause/All that spending got me right to here/I used to think/That maybe one day/I would reap what I sow/I used to think/But now I know.” He adds in the song’s third verse, “I realize that things are more important/I realize that things are black and white/To understand just how this world works/You’ve got to be in it for the fight/I used to think…” that last refrain is tough to decipher. That is a minor issue. Looking at the bigger picture of the lyrical content, it delivers a relatively positive message of someone who has learned some valuable life lessons and grown as a person as a result of those lessons. That is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation. Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation. Regardless, that it is not just another typical song about relationships and that it couples with an equally accessible musical arrangement, makes it that much more enjoyable for audiences. It is just one of the works that shines so brightly in this presentation. ‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another enjoyable entry in the record’s overall presentation.
‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another of those songs that mixes influences of the 1950s and 1980s. What is important to note here is that it is unique from the album’s other entries. In this case, the song’s musical base takes elements of 1950s doo-wop a la The Skyliners, The Everly Brothers, and Ritchie Valens and crosses that with the synth-pop sounds that were so popular during the 1980s. The hybrid approach makes the song a surprisingly appealing composition that holds its own alongside the album’s other arrangements. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too. The song’s familiar lyrical theme of a relationship adds to its appeal.
The noted theme is presented right from the song’s outset as Baker sings, “I found a true love/But I threw it away/She gave me all the lovin’/Day after day/But I was getting careless/I was foolin’ around/And I shoulda known that you would find out/Always act suspicious when I came home late/I told you I was working/And you took the bait/Rumors have a funny way of making their rounds/But the truth came out/And you found out/I know I let you down/Should’ve been the one to tell you/I should’ve been the one to say/Should’ve been the one to let you know…I can’t change my ways/Should’ve been the one to say.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “We were having our share of sleepless nights/Every disagreement/Turned into a fight/She came out of nowhere/There was nothing I could do/She makes me feel the same way I did when I met you.” Even lyrically this song harkens back to the 1950s, as it is a song sung from the male perspective, knowing that he has done wrong, and he is basically showing his remorse to the woman he wronged. This, and the song’s catchy musical arrangement, pair up to make the song that much more unique and interesting. It is just one more way in which Baker’s latest offering proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable work. ‘Waiting For You’ is yet another way in which the album exhibits its appeal.
‘Waiting For You’ is unique in that while it does present its own 1950s sensibility, one could also argue a more modern influence a la Jack Johnson. That is presented through the simple piano riff and guitar line. Baker’s vocal performance is the main point at which the 1950s influence shows through. In this case, it conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly. That in itself is enough to generate plenty of appeal. When that element is coupled with the equally familiar modern pop rock influence that is spread across Baker’s record, the song becomes even more enjoyable. Add in the familiar relationship-based lyrical content and audiences get an even more pleasant presentation.
The lyrical presentation featured here comes across as that of a man who is completely devoted to a woman. That is inferred as Baker sings in the song’s lead verse, “You were shining bright/On a warm summer night/And I was waiting for you/People smiled at me/’Cause I bet they could see/I was waiting for you/It was something real girl/How you made me feel, girl/And I always hoped you would feel it, too/Well we lost it all, girl/Sometime in the fall, girl/And I’m still in love with you.” One need not really much deeper than this, as the rest of the song follows in similar fashion. Though Baker does ask in the second verse, “What else can I do girl/It’s all up to you girl/Did you start a love affair with someone new?” as he tells the woman “I’m still in love with you.” This is a man who is head over heels for a woman, point blank. Again, this lyrical theme itself even throws back to another time. When this is considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes yet another truly high point of After Party. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation overall that is a wonderful work that any listener will celebrate.
Kurt Baker’s new album After Party is a surprisingly enjoyable offering from the independent singer-songwriter. Its musical and lyrical content alike more than prove that true. That is proven through the songs noted here and through the record’s singles, as well as its other works. All things considered, they make the album its own party for listeners ears that audiences will find themselves celebrating. It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.
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