All journeys begin somewhere, for the young New Jersey singer/ songwriter Chloe Baker, it starts with Bitter Kiss. The debut, self-titled album, Bitter Kiss, was released on March 31, of 2015 and is full of melancholy vocals with sweet guitar and piano throughout it’s entirety. Does the album stand out among the long list of upstanding albums of 2015 or is it too bitter-sweet?
While it is true that Chloe is young but she was not alone in the endeavor, her father Michael Baker is a practiced musician and producer. Bitter Kiss is credited as a duo since Michael takes on the role of drummer as well as guitarist and bassist, but the album is really an outlet for Chloe to demonstrate her own musical capabilities. Michael’s contributions come out as the subtle paste holding the album together, from the synth intros to the quality mixing.
“Thought I told you with my eyes, I didn’t want you anymore.”
The most enchanting thing about Bitter Kiss is the sound of the vocals. A soulful voice guides the listener through a lazy day haze as sweet guitar and piano melodies play along with the vocals. Although the vocals have a fair range and bring a lot of charm to the table, they begin to feel lackluster lyrically as the album continues on. This is in part to the album being so short (eight tracks), as all of the tracks on the album land soundly between the three and four-minute mark. Structurally, the guitar and vocals play very close together (which is to be expected as Chloe is the lead guitarist as well as singer/ songwriter), choosing to enjoy the near synchronicity they find, no jarring instruments or breakdowns here.
This album is not a masterpiece, in fact it blends together quite a bit, but it is the beginning of a musical career that will no doubt grow and mature with time. One important note is that nearly every track ends the same way, quietly. Be it fade out, or lingering note, the somber atmosphere throughout the album must be credited at least partially to the soft way Baker lays down each track to rest by the end.
“Are you asking when it hurts when you smile, are you thankful for the pain?”
In the end, Bitter Kiss is a solid debut album, one that demonstrates the hypnotizing effect of Chloe Baker’s soulful voice, throw in some subtle instrumentation from her father Michael Baker and the result is a mellow jaunt down memory lane. Although the album could benefit from some out-of-the-box lyrical content, it is likely that Bitter Kiss’s future releases will remain centered around love and the slightly hopeful way to reflect on the past. Fans of indie, alternative, folk, and even pop will likely have a calm and enjoyable time with the self-titled release, Bitter Kiss.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.