Singer/songwriter Erick Baker is probably both too nice and too hyper to be considered cool. But the near-capacity crowd at the Altamont Theatre on Friday didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they wildly cheered and applauded Baker’s every move. It was as if he had home court advantage — only Baker is from Knoxville and doesn’t actually get to Asheville all that often.
The musician (whose career launched with fortuitous opening slots of John Legend and James Blunt around the time of his debut, It’s Getting Too Late To Say It’s Early) does perform with absolute sincerity and enthusiasm. Even accompanied by a single pianist/violinist, he managed to fill the stage with energy and sound, his acoustic guitar serving as rhythm and background to the swell of his voice — a smoke and whiskey tenor with plenty of range and emotion.
From the opening notes of “Room to Fall” to songs like “Slow the World Down” and “Crazy,” Baker showcased heartfelt, honest lyrics. His songwriting is of two worlds: The storytelling tradition of Americana (think Townes Van Zandt) and the radio-savvy world of cross-over country (think Keith Urban). Themes run from making the most of the moment to getting over a relationship gone wrong, but most of Baker’s material seems tied to his happy home life with his wife and toddler.
On stage, Baker is in constant motion, bouncing while he sings and taking breaks to tell the audience (in perhaps too much detail) about snug fitting jeans or the obstacles to nookie since having a child.
Near the end of his set, Baker played “Stay Awhile,” one of his early hits, but a song he says “hits the root of who I am.” It was a crowd pleaser; the audience sang along. Actually, they sang along to everything except for a few new songs that Baker road-tested. Learn more about his next album here.
Photo by Molly Kummerle.