Published Jul 07, 2020Having successfully established himself as a solo artist — more than just the former Hey Rosetta! frontman — on last year's Forever Overhead, Tim Baker's latest EP reiterates this beloved Newfoundlander's strengths. Clocking in at under 20 minutes, the Survivors EP is a sweet postscript to Baker's debut full-length that captures his wide dynamic range in only five songs.
The EP's Leif Vollebekk-esque title track is this collection's most impressive offering. Expansive arrangements — featuring shimmering banjo, strings, and woodwinds, cradled in an infectious percussion rhythm — heighten the piece, which might otherwise have been forgotten amongst Baker's growing list of mid-tempo piano ballads. Baker's tried-and-true songwriting is matched with impressive instrumentation again on "Sylvan Valley," a lush celebration of the arrival of summer. The importance of the backing musicians on this EP is emphasized with the reprise of the title track, a continuation of "Survivors" that simply invites these impressive instrumentalists to riff for two minutes.
This EP also struggles with the perennial issue that all B-sides collections face: the fact that they weren't included on the full-length for a reason. In the case of Survivors, none of the offerings feel half-baked, but most tracks do feel like less impactful versions of album cuts. For instance, the solo piano piece "Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father" would likely carry more weight if it weren't for more impactful, pensive piano pieces on Forever Overhead like "The Sound of the Machines" and "The Eighteenth Hole." While the Survivors EP certainly does not suffer from a lack of beautiful melodies or unconvincing delivery, it does contain several unmemorable moments that remind you how Baker has already done it better.
Regardless, this EP is an unflinchingly pleasant, personable collection, which speaks to a deeply human optimism that Tim Baker captures with grace. Lines like "Just a bottle of suds / And a spot on the porch / Soon the kids are in love / And they're looking at us" epitomize how well Baker uses his work to capture connective joy. (Arts & Crafts)