Grammy nominee Sam Baker recently released his fifth album, "Land of Doubt," but there is no doubt where you can see him in action next — Thursday at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame.
This is Baker's second show in Bakersfield; the first was in 2015.
When Baker first burst on the scene 13 years ago, the chief story was how he had survived a 1986 terrorist bombing in Cuzco, Peru, to reinvent himself as a first-rank singer-songwriter. Five albums later, however, the main story now is his continuing growth as a songwriter — broadening both range and his impact. Baker performs widely in North America and Europe.
Rolling Stone called his last album, "Say Grace," one of the 10 best country albums of 2013.
Lone Star Music wrote that Baker is "maybe the most captivating songwriter in America."
"His music is simultaneously beautiful and broken," NPR said.
Baker's lyrics are Texas-lean, spare and appear to be carved out of granite.
We caught up with Baker before his trip to California.
How long have you been working on "Land of Doubt"? It's been four years since your last CD.
Baker: "I've had pieces of it for years. It came together over a sense of anxiety I've had for awhile. There were so many great and kind people that I met around the country who were worried. I hope I balanced the doubt with raw beauty."
Was the songwriting painful?
Baker: "At the end of 'Jeremiah Johnson,' Will Geer says to Robert Redford, "Was it worth all the trouble?" and Jeremiah said, "Weren't no trouble."
You recorded it in Nashville. What was that like?
Baker: "Nashville cats are hot. I recorded 'Say Grace,' in Austin and the players are great there but sometimes I like the isolation of the road. Distraction is both a gift and a burden."
— Herb Benham is a partner in Passing Through Productions, which has arranged Baker’s show.