Sam Baker and Darden Smith, Jumpiní Hot Club, Town Hall, Gateshead

from The Northern Echo on

OPENING the gig, Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith, whose latest album Marathon is newly released, was in relaxed mood as he aired a bunch of songs from the record.

Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Smith showed himself to be an artful songwriter, but never really stirred the passion of the audience, despite the fine semi-monologue, That Water, Mortal Coil and golden-oldie Two-Dollar Novel.

Pleasant, workmanlike and good with his intros, Smith never let anyone down but all too many of his songs were of a similar tempo and too eventoned for the majority.

Baker, right, is no stranger to the club, where he has played a number of times and become a bigger hit each time. This was no exception as he spoke of his music and people he has met.

Plus, we had all his idiosyncrasies set out for us to savour for Baker is a law to himself and his songs unique.

Supported by the able guitar (electric, acoustic) of Don Conoscenti, he performed one gem after another.

To the delight of the audience, he kept to the favourites, apart from a new song I thought to be entitled All In Time and a wonderful version of Mickey Newbury’s Just Dropped In.

I’ve heard him better and enjoy a greater rapport with his audience, but his songs, many from his album Pretty World, reached deep into the heart and soul. Everyone went home happy as they mused over the often sad songs of this remarkable singersongwriter.

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