Thanks to marketing gurus and the likes of outlets like American Idol, The Voice, and Radio Disney, not to mention a plethora of others, musical acts are coming at us at ages that are consistently younger and younger. The trend that artists like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake created, with fellow artists Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and more following in their footsteps, delivering high energy music that often belies their age in content, or lack thereof. Yet, for all the glossy radio superstars of today there are also artists like New Jersey’s Chloe Baker, whose debut project Bitter’s Kiss showcases a high school talent with something more on her mind that boys and hitting the clubs.
Baker is an artist just starting out, having grown up in a musical family. Influenced by her father who maintains a studio, is active in a local band as well as local musical theater, Baker took to songwriting as a way to journal through her feelings. And while the average teenager may channel those emotional moments into a bit of pithy prose, Baker instead turns them into compelling songs that explore life through a surprisingly mature lens.
Bitter’s Kiss recalls the pop vibes of acts like Sixpence None the Richer and Regina Spektor, with Baker’s vocals displaying something of a pixie-like quality that flows confidently over her well-crafted compositions. And those compositions manage to avoid simple definitions, jumping from the keyboard driven pop of “Already Gone” with its thoughtful lyric to the danceable EDM vibes of “Lovin’ Life,” which brings a lyrical ray of hope along while also showing a desire to avoid being pigeonholed into any one sound.
The title track explores the yin and yang of relationships, Baker’s lyric maturely dealing with issues of love and heartbreak with crooning out a breathy vocal while “Love Won’t Make You Cry” brims with hope over a lazily sung vocal that is warm and inviting, anchored by a rich guitar and piano backing. “No One Will” finds Baker channeling a bit of Zooey Deschanel with her breezy vocal delivery while “The Rope” digs into some seriously deep territory, the artist reflecting over the suicide of a cousin and musing over the important things in life. “Too Far Too Fast” draws again from the artist’s life, exploring the quick passage of time as she watches her sister head off to college, changing her life forever while “Waste Of It All” sweeps in to close things out with a peppy percussion line and an unrelenting desire to find hope and happiness, swells of horn providing the perfect emotional lift.
While perhaps still only a high school student and one who’s just taken up songwriting, Chloe Baker shows a maturity far beyond many of her contemporary peers on this debut. Packed with insightful songwriting and an indie-flavored pop vibe that is infectious, Baker shows that she’s got the chops for this industry and leaves listeners chomping at the bit for more.