Rob Baird – “Fade Away”
Memphis-born, Austin-based singer Rob Baird’s bio lists Chris Knight as a primary influence. For those not familiar with Chris Knight, this is a very good thing for an up-and-coming songwriter. Knight is, after all, one of the great writers of the modern era, with deeply developed characters packed into dark, gritty songs–and that one anomaly that became a hit for Montgomery Gentry. Baird isn’t at Knight’s level, at least not yet. But a song like “Fade Away” at least demonstrates that he knows how to put together an intriguing song. With a voice that’s somewhere between Knight and a young Steve Earle, he takes the typical “young kids in a dead-end town” theme and breathes some life back into it.
The motivation of the two characters is simple enough. She doesn’t want to get stuck as an accountant in Abilene, and he just doesn’t want to die in the same town where he was raised. They have no grand aspirations of making it big in Nashville or anything of the sort. There’s just the overwhelming need to be somewhere else as quickly as possible. It’s not a drawn-out character study, but as a testament to wanderlust and the fear of getting stuck where you least want to be, it’s effective.
Baird already had a successful single in Texas with the more mainstream-sounding “Could’ve Been My Baby,” but “Fade Away” takes a quieter approach. Using a mandolin and pump organ to drive the first half of the song gives it a distinct sound and puts it in the middle ground somewhere between country and Americana.
Baird’s songs, as evidenced by what’s available on his Myspace page, touch on loneliness and regret frequently. Fortunately for him, his voice is well-suited for dissatisfaction, particularly when he can make it sound as catchy as “Fade Away.”
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