Portland songwriter Clara Baker teamed up with avant-folk experimentalist producer Shane Leonard to record her new album ‘Things to Burn’ in a little house in Wisconsin.

That stripped back, bare, bold authenticity shines out. Along with two stellar roots musicians, Courtney Hartman (Della Mae) and Zachariah Hickman (Josh Ritter, Ray Lamontagne), Baker recorded the album live to tape, no isolation booths, no cutting in-and-out of vocal takes, no headphones, “thereby pushing herself and the others to experience the music in the moment”.

That’s exactly how this whole album feels – pure and simple, yet exploring complex personal themes. For example, the opening track ‘Things to Burn’ is deceptively sweet but secretly angry.

‘Doubt’ and ‘Memories’ are also good songs but the stand out track on this album has to be ‘Moving On’, also ‘More Than Enough’ (featuring the harmonies of Anna Tivell and Jeffrey Martin), followed by ‘Six Days of Rain’ deserve special mention.

The publicity blurb for this album depicts a deliciously relaxed and ad hoc vibe to how this album came to life – I want to include it here because it simply seems to capture what comes across:

There was a relaxed feeling to the days, and an emphasis on collaboration amongst the players. Recording engineer Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) trucked over his studio in a U-Haul, and they all set up in the living room, taking the chance that a live performance without the cushion of a recording studio would lead to the best possible performances.

This is exactly what Baker wanted.

There’s an authenticity to a live performance that I wanted to recreate with this recording. The experience of recording that way changes the way the music sounds. We set up this experience intentionally to have us be really focused on being in the moment. It was an emotional experience.

That just totally sums it up. That’s exactly what you hear – laid back tracks with a sense of integrity and hark to a simpler age of music making. Lovely.