Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Inspiring songs from painful past

Sam Baker, The Black Box, Belfast

When it comes to singer/songwriters, Sam Baker stands out, because he really has not so much “been there, done that and worn the T-shirt” as he has “suffered tragedy, felt the pain, questioned life and successfully survived all by coming up with answers in music and song from which we can all surely take comfort”.

Having been caught up in a terrorist train bombing in Peru which killed many, Baker suffered a litany of serious injuries including deafness, a mangled hand and leg, plus brain damage that affected his speech and memory.

Overcoming such obstacles, the resilient American eventually got back to his trade and produced a trilogy of albums reflecting the process of coming to terms with his unique experiences and circumstances.

Despite the harrowing origins of his material, this concert proved he is a homely and humourous performer. Older songs stood out, particularly Waves, in which his patter-style delivery made him sound like a male counterpart of Mary Gauthier.

The attentive silence during the poignant and descriptive Steel and the equally intense Broken Fingers displayed the deserved respect that this inspirational performer has earned for these painful musical reminders of his traumatic past.

Damien Murray

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