11 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A founding member of Philadelphia’s psych-folk group Espers, Meg Baird strips away the psych for her first solo album and records a pure, unadorned folk album that would fit comfortably alongside the Folkways catalog or the traditional releases of the 1960s Vanguard label. The rightful contemporaries for Dear Companion are not anything from 2007 — not even her peers in the freak-folk movement — but the early works of Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Farina, Judy Collins and Sandy Denny. Baird tackles traditional material (“Dear Companion,” “The Cruelty of Barbary Allen,” “Sweet William and Fair Ellen,” “Willie O’Winsbury”), obscure, well-chosen covers (Chris Thompson’s “River Song,” Jimmy Webb’s “Do What You Gotta Do”) and two originals (“Riverhouse in Tinicum,” “Maiden in the Moor Lay”) that could have come from centuries past. Baird double-tracks and harmonizes with herself, supporting most of these songs with little more than beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar, the occasional dulcimer and random percussion. It’s an unexpected, unpretentious delight.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A founding member of Philadelphia’s psych-folk group Espers, Meg Baird strips away the psych for her first solo album and records a pure, unadorned folk album that would fit comfortably alongside the Folkways catalog or the traditional releases of the 1960s Vanguard label. The rightful contemporaries for Dear Companion are not anything from 2007 — not even her peers in the freak-folk movement — but the early works of Joan Baez, Richard and Mimi Farina, Judy Collins and Sandy Denny. Baird tackles traditional material (“Dear Companion,” “The Cruelty of Barbary Allen,” “Sweet William and Fair Ellen,” “Willie O’Winsbury”), obscure, well-chosen covers (Chris Thompson’s “River Song,” Jimmy Webb’s “Do What You Gotta Do”) and two originals (“Riverhouse in Tinicum,” “Maiden in the Moor Lay”) that could have come from centuries past. Baird double-tracks and harmonizes with herself, supporting most of these songs with little more than beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar, the occasional dulcimer and random percussion. It’s an unexpected, unpretentious delight.

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3:44
2:31
6:26
2:48
4:01
3:05
2:26
5:13
3:20
6:09
2:27

About Meg Baird

As a member of psych-folk outfit Espers, half of the family duo the Baird Sisters, and as a solo artist, Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Meg Baird has lent her lovely voice to a variety of folk-based projects. Baird's true roots are deeply entwined in the Celtic/Anglo folk traditions as well as in American; she's well-versed in traditional ballads and songs, and her delicate, crystalline lilt fits perfectly in that milieu. Still, Baird is better known within the indie and underground rock scene than the more established streams of the folk community. In 2005, Baird met and established a friendship with Oxford, England's folk chanteuse Sharron Kraus, who later relocated to Philadelphia. Baird, Kraus, and Espers cellist Helena Espvall recorded an album together. It was released by Bo Weavil in 2006 as Leaves from Off the Tree. Baird's solo debut, Dear Companion, issued in 2007 by Drag City, featured a wide selection of cover material and two originals that displayed not only her many influences, but her command of the many interrelated languages of folk music. Baird toured the album and then went back to work with Espers, who recorded and released III in 2009. After extensive touring and a little time off, Baird cut her sophomore solo album on Drag City entitled Seasons on Earth; it was released in September of 2011, and featured special guest Helena Espvall.

That same year, Baird appeared as a guest on Kurt Vile's Smoke Ring for My Halo, and Glenn Jones' My Garden State in 2012. Baird relocated to San Francisco and became the drummer and lead vocalist in Heron Oblivion, a neo-psych band with guitarists Charles Saufley and Noel V. Harmonson, and bassist Ethan Miller. Over the next several years, she contributed single tracks to various-artist compilation albums such as Momentos 2011 Canciones Internacionales Vol. II. , Thirteenth, and Shirley Inspired.

In June of 2015, she released her third solo album for Drag City, Don't Weigh Down the Light, on which she and Saufley played all instruments. ~ Nate Knaebel & Thom Jurek

  • ORIGIN
    Philadelphia, PA

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