It’s quite appropriate that this Louisville southern gothic ensemble should call themselves Old Baby. As one listens to the opening track “Someday,” from their just-released 8-track album New Music, one gets the impression of an old soul embarking on a newborn’s journey, bringing traditional tools of the past into unknown galaxies in search of adventure.
Old Baby began with singer and writing Jonathan Wood and Evan Patterson (singer and guitarist in Young Widows) and they bonded over music from the 60s and 70s, along with Wood’s collection of traditional country. Those influences certainly shine through in their latest effort. Songs like “Someday,” “Take Heed” and “Me Dying” have a delicious southern swamp psychedelic vibe running through them like a nourishing river, while “Hovering Toll” is a sonic experiment deep into intergalactic space.
In addition to Wood and Patterson, there’s bassist Todd Cook (a veteran of many Louisville bands, such as Dead Child and The Cutters), drummer Drew Osborn (Workers) and keyboardist Neal Argabright (Sapat), though it’s less about their albeit rich lineage than the new territory they’re now exploring together. Their first release was Love Hangover, in 2013.
In New Music, there are personal contemplations about spirits, dreams and death, “Necessary” traverses into torchy blues territory, and Wood has the sort of voice that effortlessly stretches out in this context. “Visions” begins as a quiet subconscious reflection, bursting into an hallucinogenic dirge, awakening.
“It’s a dreamer’s dream
trying to find a voice
one that’s not been spoken
one that’s not a choice
visions of a red sea channeled through me
dreams take to the sky absorbing the light
so close to home all hope is gone
man must become a whole other being
never truly awake without knowing sleep
so close to home all hope is gone”
The mystical journey comes to a trance-inducing conclusion with the quietly haunting “Coming Down.” Soft guitar pickings, soft synthesizer drones and gentle bells, whisperings of tribal percussion and honey-poured vocals makes this one of the album’s most beautiful moments, and it’s a glorious conclusion to some deeply affecting music.
“Some cower in fear of the unknown
some embrace the mystery and go it alone
coming down again
imagine floating out in the stars
nowhere to be nowhere too far
the chaos among us
the patterns we create
full of swirling colors we dissipate
coming down again”
– Coming Down