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Musical fluidity pays off for Baiman

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., September 6, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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In this day and age of musical fluidity, Rachel Baiman's main gig heretofore was with 10 String Symphony, a twin-fiddle, two-vocal duo.

But now Baiman has her own solo career to attend to, which included the recent release of her very fine CD "Shame." Baiman amply demonstrated her prowess, focusing almost exclusively on songs from "Shame."

Baiman has a most pleasant, warm voice, quite reminiscent of Gillian Welch, which she showcased throughout the 70-minute show. Baiman, a Chicago native based in Nashville, easily mixed it up between faster-paced material, such as one of the album's highlights, "Thinkin' On You" and the more uptempo "Getting Ready to Start (Getting Ready)" to slower numbers. Whatever she played, it certainly helped that she had quality material with a front porch kind of feel to it - a bit laid back, pleasant and engaging.

Baiman also was helped by the duo that is Tattletale Saints. Cyrus Winstanley helped out on backing harmonies while also playing guitar. Vanessa McGowan, who also is Brandi Clark's bassist, was on upright, giving the sound a lot of bottom. The sound was most fleshed out when McGowan also joined on backing vocals, though a bit more of that would have been welcome.

Baiman herself sparked a number of the songs with her fiddle playing, but she also did so on banjo and acoustic guitar.

These days, a number of artists are not content to put all their musical talents in one basket. That's to our benefit with Baiman because, whether with 10 String Symphony or on her own, Baiman is a most welcome listen.

Tattletale Saints opened up the show with their own varied material, often on the rootsy, Americana side. Winstanley and McGowan are New Zealand natives, now based in Nashville, who blended their talents well. Winstanley assumed lead vocals with a tender delivery with McGowan ably backing him up.

They closed with a few jazzier numbers, losing a bit of the musical direction from the rest of their set. Otherwise, a good chance to see a worthy opening act.