Sam Baker's fourth LP won't surprise anyone familiar with his music, except that the local songwriter continues to extract extraordinarily evocative ballads from the minutia of ordinary life. Keeping production sparse but polished, Baker's hard-hewn and halting voice carries the emotions of tragedy and grace as both witness and participant (recall "Terrible Beauty," Nov. 16, 2007). From the powerful, fading memories of the opening title cut to the simple invocation of closer "Go in Peace," his narratives recall John Prine and Tom Russell. Discarded debris in "Road Crew" and the cutting glint of "Panhandle Winter" both bear that out, while the melodic strum of "Ditch" could be Steve Earle's songbook. Joel Guzman's accordion adds poignant shading to the doom of "Migrants," forgotten deaths but for Baker's elegy. Say Grace, raw testament to lives overlooked and stories unsung.
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