Michael Baker - 'Salt'

7/10

Since the release of his highly-praised debut album 'Dust & Bone' back in 2016, Brighton-based singer and songwriter Michael Baker found himself in a small but comfortable niche. Written in the aftermath of a devastating break-up, as all good albums seem to be, his initial collection made him appear as a fragile and romantic artist, trying his best to come to terms with the world around him. But after four years working on his follow-up, he now feels he is over that part of his life and wants to focus his songwriting on a broader range of inspiration as 'Salt' sees him get evermore personal than before.

Still produced through the lens of a minimal yet impactful singer-songwriter guise, 'Salt' sees the frontman turn his attention to a wider and more retrospective look at his own struggles and shortcomings. As a 30-year-old working in the music industry, much of this new collection focuses on the maturity and self-assurance that many artists begin to feel at this stage in their lives, and ultimately how getting older can be a great healer of mental health problems as well as gaining personal growth. His whimsical aesthetic still remains the heart of this new record, but feels like he is creating something altogether more profound and enticing.

Although he is far from the only artist putting mental health at the forefront of his music, he isn't one to shove it in people's faces, making it a far more accessible and inviting release than its pretence would have suggested. 'Salt' is a true coming-of-age album and one that feels like we are beginning to see the organic nature of the man at the helm.

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