I reviewed Melanie Baker’s ‘False Fantasies’ last month, and I meant to give an update when the entire EP was released. Well, it’s more of the same. And that’s a very good thing. Continuing as she started in ‘False Fantasies,’ the rest of the Dreamer EP is a refreshingly wise and well-written retrospective on youth. Baker has great wisdom, and the words to express it.
The whole EP is a voice and accompaniment, with a touch of strings and harmonies here and there. It feels restrained, like Baker could have added more but chose not to, which I respect. There’s a simple elegance in the music, reflecting the simple elegance of the lyrics. Every line has a golden tint, written by someone at peace with their past, the good and the bad. It’s fantastic at making a mood and running with it.
‘False Fantasies’ is grounded in the past. Baker makes peace with the thought of a lost love, bemoaning “the space in your bed was never meant for me.” When I reviewed the track last I admired the use of dynamics which made the piano and cello feel like a whole orchestra by the end of the track. I’m glad to say those comments hold up. A nice opener to set the mood.
Any songwriter should give ‘Dancing with Strangers’ a listen, or five. It’s a wonderful metaphor for changing times. What was once “fun” now makes Baker “numb.” Baker’s voice is a great compliment to the lyrics too. There’s an effortless control in her vocals. She knows when to whisper and when to shout, and it’s just what the song needed. Big respect.
‘Homesick’ feels more country as the guitar replaces the piano. Where the piano was dynamic and big, the guitar is subtler, more intimate. The lyrics are similarly more intimate, more personalised. Where the previous numbers felt retrospective, distant, ‘Homesick’ feels like a one-to-one. There’s hurt in Baker’s voice, simply saying “I’ll always miss you.” It’s an honest and sweet sentiment, that again has a hint of sadness.
‘Loveblind’ is a similar guitar-based heart-to-heart. The guitar rhythm makes the song bob, with the emphasis on the downbeat. It’s makes the whole track rock like a country road. The whole track is looser, lazier. A carefree song for carefree mood. Peaceful and relaxed thoughts on falling in love put another spin on those ideas of looking back.
‘Dreamer’ brings back the piano, as a reprise to say it’s okay to look back on what we once were. It’s a simple, straight-forward motif to finish off the EP. There’s some fantastic wisdom in what she writes which you might not expect. “You can’t move forward if you keep looking back, dreamer of the past.” If you’re looking for some spiritual guidance, give ‘Dreamer’ a listen.
My biggest criticism with Dreamer is that it only does one thing. But it does it exceptionally well, and I know I’m going to add it to my morning playlist. It’s a very pleasant album with a great message. Melanie Baker has all the marks of a great songwriter, and I’m gonna keep a close eye on what she does next. You should too.
Melanie Baker’s ‘Dreamer’ EP is out now – available to purchase on various formats here.