Rayland Baxter - Wide Awake (ATO Records) 2018
Rayland Baxter might not be the most groundbreaking artist out there, but the magic of his music lies in his undeniable charm, an uncanny ability to make the listener relax and have some fun. That feeling has a lot to do with the atmosphere surrounding the recording of the album: looking for isolation in order to focus on his art, Baxter moved into an abandoned rubber band factory which he turned into a studio – as well as his home – for three months.
The experience allowed the Nashville-born musician to come up with this collection of 10 delicious and vibrant indie folk/alternative country tunes, a source of musical joy one can certainly use to cope with the increasingly scary and confusing planet we live in (the title of the song “Strange American Dream”, for instance, is sort of political – Baxter did have the TV in the kitchen stuck on the news channel, after all). Still, the beauty of the songs reminds us of better, simpler times, times we might desperately need to go back, and that’s what makes the record so wonderful and addictive.