Jim Baumer 2022
Soothing his anguish and stoking his anger at today’s agenda, a bard from Biddeford struggles to find peace of mind.
More known as an author and small press publisher, Jim Baumer’s been an amateur guitarist for quarter-century, but the Mainer didn’t properly get into songwriting until the tragic passing of his activist son, who got hit by a car during a fundraising cross-country walk, so working on this album was both therapeutic and artistic effort for the performer. And that’s exactly the effect the eight pieces on display must have on the listener, too, what with its hard-hitting lyrics targeting affairs of the soul and social issues – given an equal flair and the heat of delivery. There’s also depth to help everyone to find their balance in times like ours, and melodies to assist in alleviating the pain.
Playing all the instruments on his debut platter and pouring his feelings over the grooves, Baumer doesn’t hold back and sets things in motion with a simple beat and serrated riff of “Broken Little Bird” where the textual balladry packed in the tremulous voice is juxtaposed with dirty sound, punchy twang and almost out-of-tune solo passages to result in catharsis. The drift would take off in the distorted, multilayered licks of “Spaceship Flying Saucer Bluze” that locates protest against humanity’s contemporary woes in what could seem to be progressive rock if not for the artist’s punk attitude. And while this sophisticated epic sounds mesmeric, the spell will dissolve in the even longer “Finding A New Path”: a half-spoken-word autobiographical diatribe aimed at life’s cruelty – and the perceived hypocrisy of Neil Young, Jim’s former hero, whose folk influence, acoustic picking included, “You Don’t Love Me (You Don’t Care)” wears rather proudly.
However, the psyche-searching is spiced up here and there by political commentary, and if the heavy squeal of “Soros Jam (Biden Mix)” arrives full of sarcasm and has acerbic smile plastered all over its jive, “Divided And Conquered (Swamp Mix)” oozes hard-rock poison in spades, namechecking Fauci, Soros, Gates and Biden as the dissent-spreading culprits behind pandemic-related problems yet burying vocals under guitar noise. Still, “TNT” and “Kick The Darkness” praise the Canadian ways of looking for truth, the latter bringing the album to a close with the “I’m gonna’ kick that darkness, until it bleeds daylight” refrain – a reflection of Jim Baumer’s steel determination to persevere and meet the brighter future.
It’s not easy, and neither is this record, but his hope serves as example to lesser mortals.