Premiere: Michael Baker’s Haunting & Hopeful “Caught in the Crossfire”

Michael Baker © 2020
Michael Baker © 2020
Stirring, soft, and breathtakingly fragile, Michael Baker’s new song “Caught in the  Crossfire” is the gilded daydream we can’t wait to return to time and again.
for fans of Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart, Gregory Alan Isakov
Stream: “Caught In The Crossfire” – Michael Baker
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If it feels like we were only just praising Michael Baker for his graceful and touching sophomore album, that’s because we were: Released in early March, Salt remains one of 2020’s most personal and affecting album releases, an “achingly honest and heartfelt reckoning full of striking vulnerability and beautiful songwriting,” per our review. Yet the Brighton-born, London-based singer/songwriter has wasted no time in returning to the fore with an upcoming third record. Written in quarantine, he says it’s his favorite collection yet – and its first two offerings suggest it might be ours, too.

Baker’s July single “How Come You Sleep” offered a beautiful breath of light and levity, and his August follow-up “Caught in the Crossfire” is a soothing, intimate moment of humbling, haunting folk reflection.

Caught in Crossfire - Michael Baker
Caught in the Crossfire – Michael Baker
Maybe I’m just caught in a crossfire
Or maybe I’m too blind to see what’s going on
And I can paint it red
And you can paint it blue
These colours change the view

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Caught in the Crossfire,” the second single off Baker’s forthcoming third album How Come You Sleep (out December 2020). Written and recorded with Lucy Rose’s band member Andrew Stuart-Buttle during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, and mixed by Oliver Baldwin, How Come You Sleep is fragile and introspective – two qualities Baker has long excelled at evoking, but never as vividly as he does here.

There are no holds barred and no second guesses across “Caught in the Crossfire.” The track shimmers with delicate acoustic guitars and pianos – some in the forefront, others making up an ambient background. Baker spills emotion through vocals laden with longing and earnest curiosity – a wide-eyed sense of wonder, marred by deeper introspection.

Sweet saviour sail me to the dream
& whisper to me sweet nothings
until the break of dawn
And I can paint it red
And you can say it’s blue
These colours change the view

“[I was] sitting in lockdown thinking how can anything be so hard, so easy, so incredibly sad and so fucking beautiful,” Baker recalls. “As with most of my songs I wrote it feeling sad and looking to the light. I sat up in bed just before sleeping and the whole thing came out in one go. The next day i recorded the whole thing down pretty much as you hear it on the record. For the piano part i wanted to take musicality out of it, so with my hands on the right notes i actually blindfolded myself and felt my way through the track.”

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Dazzling poetry makes this song one to accompany us in our dreams and waking stages alike; its words lift off the page, dancing circles in our minds as we interpret them at will. “It’s about being caught up in it all obviously and about how one moment of kindness spreads like the roots of a tree… and that colour can change your view and make you look out differently,” Baker adds. “‘You can paint it red, i can paint it blue, these colours change the view.’ The album created is my favourite I’ve done so far, and I can’t wait to get it out into the world.”

Though a product of lockdown, this song’s insulation feels comforting. It’s an invitation to stop looking outward for a moment and look inward instead; to step out of ourselves and simply enjoy the world we’ve got – whatever that entails or means for us. Baker’s soothing, layered harmonies make for an entrancing experience as we indulge in his careful, nuanced songcraft:

Maybe I’m just caught in a Crossfire
Maybe I’m just caught in a Crossfire
You can stain it red
And i can keep it blue
These colours change
These colours change the view

A subtle musical outpouring straight from the soul to the ears, Michael Baker’s latest offering is the intimate solace this summer needs. It’s a mindful escape – an invitation to look at our lives through a new lens. Stirring, soft, and breathtakingly fragile, “Caught in the Crossfire” is the gilded daydream we can’t wait to return to time and again. Stream the new single exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Baker will be self-releasing a track every three weeks up until How Come You Sleep‘s album release this December!

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Stream: “Caught In The Crossfire” – Michael Baker
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Caught in Crossfire - Michael Baker

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