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Entertainment News

Saturday, 18 December, 2010 7:32 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: 'Rob Baird'

Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson

New country artist Rob Baird

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2010 CMA Close Up News Service

To enhance your feel for rootsy rock with a vast Country spirit, you couldn’t come up with a better background than that of Rob Baird. He was born and grew up in Memphis, Tenn., a city whose name alone stirs something deep in America’s musical consciousness. And now, as a Texas resident for several years, he places what he’s learned from his hometown against a backdrop of dusty roads stretching towards endless horizons.

Though he learned as a child to play guitar and picked up essential lessons in songwriting from his sister’s collection of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers records, Baird has honed his stage skills on the club circuit. From Texas to throughout the Southeast, he learned to present the sometimes rough edges of his sound and the evocative imagery of his lyrics in ways that reach out even to crowds that seldom go easy on newcomers.

Evidence of this persuasiveness permeates Blue Eyed Angels, Baird’s Carnival Recording Company debut album. Produced by Scott Davis, the album features 11 tracks, including six written by Baird and three which he co-wrote. One of his solo compositions, “Could Have Been My Baby,” functions well as his first single: Easy-going yet rhythmically insistent, slickened by steel guitar and laced with strong hooks reminiscent of Mellencamp’s finest, it unfolds through verses built on nostalgic images of family and church, which tighten to a punchy, sing-along chorus. Baird sums it up best, of course: “It’s hateful but happy and dark in a major key.”

We’d go further than that and say that Baird’s art is all about balance. “Let Me Down Easy,” another solo write, courses gently from a sweet/sad steel-and-guitar to an insistent final chorus, with words that contrast standing on a mountaintop with “fallin’ flat on your face.” These tracks, like the rest of Blue Eyed Angels, follow the difficult footsteps of early Neil Young but veer eventually out on their own, led by songs that are equal parts solid craft and poet’s soul.

IN HIS OWN WORDS Q&A

DREAM DUET PARTNER

“Buddy Miller.”

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND

“The Gulf Coast Boys, by Richard Dobson.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD

“The Home Café in Lubbock, Texas.”

PHRASE YOU SAY OVER AND OVER

“That dog ain’t gonna hunt.”

SECRET WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU

“I won a George Strait look-alike contest when I was 16 in South Haven, Miss. I love to cook. And I collect rare or unique guitars.”

On the Web: www.RobBairdMusic.com

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