By Carl Begai
German independent singer / guitarist / songwriter Florian Baessler – the original and only Wilderpilger – has earned himself a small but loyal following at home over the years both for his live cover act and his original music. The cover shows are always entertaining one-man-band displays of how far he can push (mostly) popular songs in directions one might not expect, while All The Things showcases Baessler as an artist capable of succeeding on his own merit. Big on country music influences (right down to a guitar twang) with a very slight dabbling of rock thrown into the soup, the album is a storyteller’s journey through everything from coping with that annoying person in the audience at any given show (‘All The Things’), the love / hate paradox of being a travelling musician (‘Really Like To Stay’), fatherhood (‘Your Love’, ‘Sleeping St. Salomon’), love (‘Mine’), fear (‘Breathe’), life ‘Down Down Down’)…. very down to earth. Musically it’s rock solid on a foundation of acoustic guitars and Baessler’s lush voice, backed by the organic warmth of piano, Hammond organ, upright bass and electric guitar as required. This can’t be stressed enough; All The Things sounds and acts like it was made by real people in a real studio, discussing and arguing and laughing with each other as the songs were brought to life.
It’s a bit of a surprise the album has the level of appeal that it does in my world given the noise I normally listen to on any given day. At this point I’m blaming it on the honesty of the music and the talent behind the songs. That and the fact many of the songs are catchy, pure and simple, and don’t sport that dreaded acoustic guitars = ballads stigma.
Adding to the album’s charm is Baessler’s reverence for the session musicians that supported him making the record. No solo artist is truly “solo” once he taps other players to fill in the gaps he can’t take care of on his own, and Baessler acknowledges this several times in the liner notes and the cover art itself. Particularly noteworthy is his decision to record ‘Always Waiting’ twice, with backing vocalist Chrissy Brenner singing the leads the second time around, and the inclusion of ‘Moonwaltz (for E)’ written entirely by guitarist Jürgen Hoffmann, which Baessler didn’t sing or play on (!). A display of respect at its finest.
My only complaint about All The Things is the track sequence, which shoves three instrumental pieces to the back of the bus and puts the two versions of ‘Always Waiting’ too close together. Purely a matter of taste, of course, and that’s why programmable CD players and digital files were invented. A very small blemish on what comes off as a top quality album that would make an impression on Canadian and American country radio if given the chance.
Check out Baessler’s offcial website here. The site is in German but don’t be afraid of contacting him if you have questions about purchasing his music. His English is flawless and he has a dark sense of humour.
Audio samples from All The Things and other work from Baessler can be heard here.
Photo by Flo Horn.