Joel Baker – Hush Now My Fears

A bold, soulful work of real emotion...

Blending spoken-word with stunning vocals, Nottingham-bred singer-songwriter Joel Baker has completed his long-awaited debut album, ‘Hush Now My Fears’. After almost a decade of releasing music, Baker has clearly remained patient with his craft and waited for the right moment to release this body of work – now. 

Baker’s vocal delivery is a delicate balance of smoothness and rawness. On closer ‘Hope Sweet Hope’ his voice retains a soft timbre but breaks up like a valve amplifier pushed to the max. It’s bittersweet; Baker seems to be seeking hope in what feels like a hopeless time. The acoustic guitar is simple but serves its purpose, and the layers of instrumentation during the choruses award it with an arena-ready quality. ‘Magic 8 Ball’ leans more into hip-hop than balladry, with Baker tackling spoken word rather than singing. The mixture of melodic singing with poetic performances is refreshing, breaking up the tracks in a perfect way to retain the compelling nature of the record. Heavy sub basses and trap drums serve as the foundation to ‘Magic 8 Ball’ and the choirs and string sections are a stark juxtaposition, but a very much welcomed one. 

Genre fluidity is paramount on this record. Baker plays an exceptional hand: showing he can do anything. Whether its ballads, hip-hop influences or neo-soul, he proves he can do it all. ‘Baby Teeth’ has a relaxed, hazy instrumentation, the beat feeling like it could have been on a Loyle Carner record. Both James Vickery and jordy deliver exceptional features on the track also, clearly a careful selection from Baker. In a feature-heavy musical landscape, with features often being there ‘just because’, it is refreshing to see such deliberate curation on the feature end of the record. 

‘Hush Now My Fears’ is a stunning debut effort. Built from the ashes of suffering devastating losses in his personal life, Baker takes these emotions and channels it into a beautiful batch of songs. It is a compelling, albeit heart-breaking, listen, and could easily be in the running for one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year. 

8/10

Words: James Mellen

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