Ereic_Baker_90Eric Baker sounds right at home on his mature-sounding debut, full of thoughtful lyrics and a solid classic rock/pop musical foundation...

Hope and Thin Space
Artist: Eric Baker
Length: 10 tracks / 42:23

Refreshingly hopeful, free of pretentions, and musically sound - Eric Baker's Hope and Thin Space offers ten tracks of real middle-American rock and pop with a distinctly Christian world-view. With a hint of early James Taylor in his vocal tone, Baker's songs come from a real place that we can all either relate to or need to be reminded of.

Produced with taste, restraint and just enough edge by Thom Daugherty (formerly lead guitarist for The Elms), Hope and Thin Space avoids electronic bells and whistles and allows Baker to speak to us with a human voice. Baker's lyrics show an awareness of God and His blessings without indulging in the musical or lyrical cliches that plague lesser 'Christian' projects. Even when Baker ventures close to the 'praise and worship' camp ("Eyes to the Hills") he does so with integrity and originality, relying on melody and song structure instead of simple repetition.

The inclusion of Chris Thomas on drums and Daugherty on guitar and bass already gives us half of The Elms (miss these guys already), but the classic Hammond B3 played by Bill Mailers (Baker also contributes some B3) and Baker's solid piano work make for a true classic rock-era experience, especially on the gospel-rock sounding "Come and Be Our Peace," where the band sounds like it could handle early Joe Cocker and make him feel right at home.

"Tearing This House Down" is a rocking testimony to change and growth: "It would be easy to just let this house / tumble to the ground. But empty I would be / 'cause these walls are more than shelter, each layer must be strong / to shape what I believe..."

"Square Peg, Round World" is a tour de force that has a similar energy to Procol Harum's "Drunk Again," with some tight, feisty drumming by Thomas, stinging guitar breaks by Daugherty, a fiery Hammond and some rollicking piano from Baker. These boys can obviously jam.

For a first outing, Eric Baker's Hope and Thin Space comes on strong but not over-the-top. There's an honesty to the music and lyrics and an economy to the production that causes the listener to feel that the time spent listening has been time well-spent. The question is, where will this fit? It's too 'real' for the Praise & Worship crowd, not hip, commercial, or 'indie' enough for the CCM crowd, and it's certainly not in the hard-core camp. It just might fit in your own collection, though – I recommend listening to samples at Baker's website, Amazon, iTunes, and other online sources. Recommended.

Bert Saraco