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Rachel Baiman

Sham – 2017 (Free Dirt)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Rachel Baiman

Rachel Baiman emerges seemingly out of the blue on this, her first full-length solo endeavor. A former member of the duo that dubbed themselves 10 String Symphony, she makes a confident and credible attempt at putting her own singular brand on archival Americana, offering the impression that she's far more accomplished than her 27 years might otherwise indicate.

Tuneful, melodic and carefully crafted, "Shame" sounds like the work of someone who has already taken years to reach this point. While ample credit is due producer Andrew Marlin, best known for his work with Mandolin Orange, Baiman herself deserves kudos for writing and recording songs that sound so contemporary and vintage all at the same time. While that may seem like a contradiction, the results attest to her success. "I was just naive and fancy free/When I left that dusty town," she coos on "Never Tire of the Road," gleefully sharing her experiences prior to blossoming into the assured-sounding artist she comes across as today.

While it would hardly be surprising to find Baiman approaching her craft with some degree of trepidation ("I used to be so carefree/Running around with my heart held out/But now I worry, not I fret/Now I've got something to lose" she opines on "Something To Lose"), her ability to offer an easy lilt, simple sashay and some obvious ability on the banjo attests to her competence and craft. Songs such as the title track, "Let Them Go To Heaven" and the telling "Getting Ready To Start (Getting Ready)" indicate she's set her course with confidence. Though understated to a degree, "Shame" has her sounding like an artist who's no stranger as far as consistent quality is concerned.

Suffice it to say the title is a misnomer. There's no absolutely shame in this effort whatsoever.