At last count, I’ve listened to Simon Baum’s EP Better about nineteen times. I combed through it, lived in it for a whole day, yet I always came back to the same conclusion: the album is bland. The songwriting is solid, as is the production and musicianship and still, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done a thousand times before.
The first track, “Bridges,” begins with a solitary acoustic guitar, backed by latent delay. Tonally, I enjoyed how the vocals and guitar suit each other along with all the little background additions such as subtle keys and choir voices. Sadly, to me it sounds like a more somber Jack Johnson with a few more bells and whistles. While the song is constructed well, it’s not any new, nor even close to being distinguishable from all the other acts vying for the same sound.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this record was the lyrical content. The message was upbeat, albeit at times the lyrics themselves seemed rather simple. Still, most of the songs deal with enjoying yourself for who you are. “Bridges” deals with how when someone wrongs you, either from a perceived or real slight, how we should, essentially, build a bridge and get over it. It’s a quirky way to deal with one’s own anger and it’s nice that Simon Baum takes this approach. I’ve heard too many songs where people sing about the opposite, so it’s very refreshing to hear. The delivery, on the other hand, leaves a bit to be desired. As mentioned above, the lyrics are not anything that would win a nobel prize, but it’s Baum’s way of singing that irks me the most. The majority of his melodies are sung in a breathy, wispy way; like the words are in danger of floating by you without notice.
That’s my hottest of hot takes. If you’re a fan of folksy music that can lift your soul up a bit, give the album a listen. Maybe it’ll sit better with you than with this soulless reviewer. As always, feel free to give me your hot takes in the comments below.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Danielle Kenedy