Baird, Ken - Fields

Year of Release: 1998
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: KBFCD01
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:40:00

While Fields is a little more rock based than August, Ken Baird remains an artist that could be played on the mellower, adult contemporary stations. I've said it before, but Baird makes me think of Dan Fogelberg, no more here than on "Firefly." Some of the Celtic elements of August are present here, too. Musically, I thought also of the mellower moments Marillion had on their 90s material?most specifically, parts of "This Strange Engine" (from the album of the same name). Baird plays nearly all the instruments on this album - keys, guitar, drum programming, piano, trumpet, etc. though he is ably aided by Sue Fraser on vocals, Mike Truax on drums, Jacob Moon on guitar, and Mike Classen on saxophone (on "The Pond"). However, on three of the album's 9 tracks it is solely Baird.

The album begins with the spacey -- both in sound and theme -- "New Universe." For the first few seconds, you'll think of Pink Floyd, but the addition of keys takes it quite a different direction. Baird's soft, echoed voice gives the arrangement lots of space (no pun intended). Fraser's provides backing vocalizations (la la's), only adding to the spacey feel. Piano chimes like twinkling stars?in fact, you can almost picture it - a field a stars, the cloudy expanse of the Milky Way, the reds and blues of nebulas?

"Little Air To Breathe" is set in another kind of field entirely -- which seems to be a rather desolate place for a lone little girl. Where you might expect either a guitar solo or keyboard solo, it is a trumpet that, during the bridge, enhances the track's melancholy feel with long, elongated notes, while piano drives the track forward.

"Awake In The Dark" is a gentle piano based piece where the theme is as stated in the title - "don't lie awake in the dark." Of course, it is then when you start imagining things - monsters outside the window, that your loved one has evil intent (perhaps an extrapolation of unfaithfulness). I have to relate a little story here. Many moons ago when I was a child, perhaps 5 or so, I remember hearing on the news that a prisoner had escaped from a Chicago prison and was on the loose. I started worrying that he might be in my backyard, and I couldn't and didn't want to go to sleep. I didn't think about then how far apart Illinois and California were; just that someone might be lurking in our backyard. There is a slight twist at the end of Baird's song, a line that reads, "You said I worry too much and I know that's true/It was the last time I heard it coming from you." Well ? how many home invasions have you read about on the news?

"Into Night" begins with an energetic guitar solo over symphonic keys and driving drums, making me think of Italian prog, though nothing so specific as any one band. When the harmonized vocals of Fraser and Baird begin, however, it is of White Willow that I think. More so than I think of Renaissance, though there is that element here, too. Their voices harmonize nicely, though Fraser's is the stronger of the two. Hers is the more prominent. Lyrically, I spot more than a few references to Alice In Wonderland, in lines like "rabbit cries he's never where he wants to be / and time's running fast," for example. There is a classically influenced piano solo that is soon joined by a penny whistle?there is an Old World feel to the music, vaguely Celtic, mainly done to that penny whistle. The rhythm almost approaches a reel, but backs off. The track has picked up it's pace by the time its nearly through, Fraser's voice doubled, keyboards swirling about like a whirlwind. The wind dies down for a lyrical and delicate guitar solo that leads the track out to the end.

Maybe "No Easy Path" needs a little more punch to it, as there points where you think the track will explode open and doesn't, but that's not really the kind of artist Baird is. This is a very nice, very reflective album full of beautiful harmonies, melodies, and lyrical imagery. For those looking for mellow, folksy music in the vein of the above mentioned White Willow, Baird is your man.

New Universe (5:45) / Little Air To Breathe (5:40) / There Is A Place (2:10) / Firefly (4:55) / Awake In The Dark (3:56) / No Easy Path (7:06) / Into Night (11:07) / The Pond (6:14) / 3000 Blue Mountains (2:47)

Ken Baird - vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, drum programming, piano, trumpet, recorder, whistles
Sue Fraser - vocals
Mike Truax - drums (2, 7, 9)
Jacob Moon - guitars (4, 7)
Mike Classen - saxophone (8)

August (1996)
Fields (1998)
Orion (2000)
Martin Road (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 27th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1586
Language: english


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