Steve Baker & the LiveWires - The Great Divide (CD) (5906955239577)

Steve Baker & the LiveWires - The Great Divide (CD)

TZ1884

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After a lengthy professional career as a highly regarded sideman, harmonica icon Steve Baker released his first solo album as singer, songwriter and bandleader in 2018. “Perfect Getaway” (TZ 1473) garnered excellent reviews and showed the 64 year old from a previously unknown side. In the course of the two years since its release, he has played over 50 concerts with his band The LiveWires, developing an instantly recognizable collective sound which regularly wows live audiences.

At the heart of the band lies the interplay between Jan Mohr’s exciting guitar sounds, Jeff Walker’s rock-solid bass and newest (and youngest) member Henri Jerratsch’s elastic drum grooves, underscoring Baker’s punchy vocals and ripping harmonica arrangements. Steve’s daughter Gina adds lovely backing vocals and the tight, sparsely arranged band sound with rich vocal harmonies provides the perfect vehicle for Baker’s deeply personal songs.

In July 2019, Steve took the band into Hamburg’s Chefrock Studios (owned by Peter Keller, producer of German rock megastar Peter Maffay) for a week to record new material with sound engineer Tillmann Ilse at the controls. The resulting album “The Great Divide” (TZ 1884) contains 11 new originals plus a compelling cover of Bob Dylan’s This Wheel’s On Fire. With this record, the brakes are clearly off and Baker has shifted into a higher gear, providing convincing evidence of just how much he has developed as a singer and songwriter in the past two years. In contrast to its predecessor, The Great Divide is also very much a band album. Though the songs are extremely varied, the sparse arrangements and consistent line-up ensure they share the same character, a band identity and sound which has grown together and is all of a piece. All basic tracks including vocals were recorded live in Chefrock Studios, with additional recording of overdubs and corrections at fmi Studio, Hamburg and Eject Studio in Handeloh. As with Perfect Getaway, Steve mixed the production with Marcus Praed at the Mühle der Freundschaft in Bad Iburg, where it was also mastered.

Overall the songs are heavier than on the first album and cover a wide stylistic spectrum, ranging from rocking British beat to funky New Orleans, from songwriter to subterranean new age blues. Bakers feeling for timeless pop music is readily apparent, as is his fondness for heavy but catchy rock numbers, and his unmistakeable harmonica sound, always in the service of the song, adds the final touch. His songs of life, love and the pursuit of happiness in the age of lies radiate attitude and strike a deeply personal note which echos our troubled times.

1 Don’t Turn Your Back On Love
2 Judgement Day
3 Don’t Worry About The Money
4 Steppin’ High
5 Chains
6 Long Distance Man
7 State Of Grace
8 This Wheel’s On Fire
9 Too Late
10 Fools & Scoundrels
11 One Drop Blues
12 The Great Divide