A Little Help From His Friends

Sam Baker is the first to admit his musical limitations.

"It's not like I'm going to come out with a different voice or play guitar much better," he laughs. "It's all I got, and I'm grateful that people have responded."

As a natural songwriter's songwriter, Baker's work has attracted contributions from an expanding number of musicians. Players on his two albums include local mainstays like Walt Wilkins, Gurf Morlix, and Lloyd Maines, while Baker's rough voice has received accompaniment from sister Chris Baker-Davies, plus Marcia Ramirez, Stephanie Urbina Jones, and outlaw first lady Jessi Colter.

"I felt like I was hit by lightning," says Wilkins of the first time he heard Baker play. "I couldn't believe how great each song was. I thought, 'This is one of the best writers alive,' and it was a great gift to hear him."

Wilkins helped produce both of Baker's albums in Nashville alongside Tim Lorsch, who brought additional artists into the fold like Hank Williams Jr. steel guitarist Mike Daly.

"Working with Sam is truly a treasure; he has no preconceived notions, and he just wants to make music," attests Daly. "I've spent so much time just reading his lyrics like poems. It's about real people feeling real things and somehow, as a third person, he seems to observe a reality that people normally just don't see."

Baker's closest ally has become Morlix, who was introduced to Baker's music when a friend played him "Waves" from 2004 debut Mercy. Morlix sought out Baker, and the two become close friends and collaborators.

"He's a real writer," boasts Morlix. "He's poetic as can be. He knows how to trim the ugly fat from a song and get it down so there's nothing there but meat, nothing that doesn't need to be there."

"There's something about the chemistry of our shows together," Morlix adds. "We can play for three hours, and it seems like no time at all. Sam always just turns it into a living-room party somehow."

  • More of the Story

  • Terrible Beauty

    The first day that Sam Baker could hear again

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Doug Freeman
Texas Platters
George Ensle
Home (Record Review)

April 19, 2019

Texas Platters
D.C. Bloom
Pack Up the Moon (Record Review)

April 19, 2019

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle