Smooth like silk is how to best describe "Half-Shot" by Harry Baker. Combining soulful vocals, with Jazz improvisations and R&B stylings, this London based artist has created something truly wonderful. The song begins with a vocal note, slowly rising in pitch and building toward the first chorus, which starts the song. You are struck by the smooth timbre of Harry’s voice and if the song didn’t have it before, it now claims all of your attention. When the chorus ends, the first verse begins. He questions whether he is too late to approach this woman, with the stunning eyes but his question remains unanswered as the chorus rolls around.
The melodious beat of the bass lead chorus is sure to put you in a groove and make you want to move. Then, suddenly where you’d expect a second verse, there’s a reprise instead. Harry’s vocals are surrounded by a trombone on every fourth beat, emphasizing the meaning of his words. You are drawn out of this refrain by the holding of note like a beautiful breath of fresh air. Harry begins to sing words of self-reflection and we are escorted into verse 2. Now, the song has built up momentum and the swing of jazz emboldens the beat. With piano, guitar and trombone improvisations. The vibe is high and the smooth vocals are emphasized.
As the song draws to a close with an incredible trombone solo and chorus repetition you are filled with awe at what Harry has achieved. After years of playing in other bands, like Old Swing and Flood For The Famine, it’s clear to see that Harry has mastered his sound. With his first and second album released, Harry now teases at the release of his third album, with his newest single ‘Half-Shot’. No doubt, this new project will be great.
Stream "Half-Shot" here.
Hey Harry, welcome to Buzz Music and thank you for being here! "Half-Shot" was like me morning coffee- everything I needed. The placement of instruments throughout the track is perfect. What was the process of producing this record?
Hey! Thanks for having me, I’m so glad you’re enjoying my new music, and thanks for the kind words. "Half-Shot" subtlety touches on patience, manners, and being the right amount of forwarding or confident. The song is designed to keep you engaged and waiting, like ordering at a bar. You’re committed and waiting for something that will come, but sooner if you’re respectful. This is a metaphor for most things we desire in life, if you’re patient and treat people respectfully, you usually end up more fulfilled are presented with better options.
I’m glad you commented on the instrumentation, I can brag about my pal who provided some of the sexiest trombone playings I’ve ever heard. Joel Knee and I have been working together for years on various things, and after writing the main hook on bass and guitar, the last remaining ingredient was that Knee stank. I actually wasn’t present for the recording of his parts, but I can imagine he took a couple of listens, and just did his thing. I’m super stoked with the flavor these parts gave to the overall sound of the song. In parts with more “out there” harmony (coming out of the first “where don’t you put me where you found me”) the way in which he outlined the chords and his approach was just something the track really needed. There are many layers to this tune, but one thing I like to think of is the change of feel, from swing to straight towards the end of the track. I like to think this portrays how fast things can change when we make decisions in altered states, or when full self-control is nothing but a long lost pal, waving at us in the distance.
You’ve spent quite some time involved in other bands. What have you learned from being involved in these projects?
I started performing in bands around the age of 11-12, formed my own project when I was around 13 as a guitarist, then fully took control at 14 when I started singing. So I guess playing with other musicians has always been something that’s felt organic and pure. I believe being a musician is about 40% is a solid player, the other 60% is an amalgamation of persona, reliability, attitude, and versatility. Without tooting my own horn, I feel the things I’ve learned over the last 11 years has contributed to me being a generally good candidate for bands and running my own one. These projects have helped me grow as a musician and expand my experience in the music business. Over the years to help fund my music, I’ve played in Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Blues and even Indie bands, and if there’s anything I’ve learned from my experience in these groups, is keep your word, be honest, have fun and remember why you’re there.
You combine guitar infused tones into your music a lot, and in "Half-Shot" we can hear the beautiful jazz guitar improvisations you sprinkle throughout the song. What has your process of mastering the guitar been like?
Wow, the master is a strong word! I’d say I was far from this or being where I want to be with guitar, but I’d like to say the last 11 years has got me off to a good start! I like to think the guitar as something I communicate through, and I feel a lot of the time I can say more with my playing than with my words. I’ve taken inspiration from a vast amount of things, legends like Jeff Beck, some of the early MJ and D’angelo stuff, Prince of course. Things that aren’t even directly linked to music or guitar playing; like dreams, nature or even other people’s personalities often inspire me… Any outcome of something we have entire creative cover is so unique to the vessel. Why not show it? The feelings expressed in the new album are quite extravagant, so the guitar work may follow a similar pattern.
You combine the genres of Jazz, Soul, R&B, and Groove so effortlessly in "Half-Shot". This level of artistry takes time to master. When were you first introduced to these genres?
I think most musicians will agree that phases are paramount of importance if you want to progress. I’ve had many! Though I grew up in a non-musical family, almost every genre resonated with my parents, so I was aware of Johnny Cash, Prince, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Springsteen, The Carpenters, etc from as early as 8. Apparently I used to sob to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” as a child whenever it came on…sometimes it still happens! The early 70s and 80s rock and blues music was what inspired me to start playing I and strived to play a lot of that stuff upon receiving my first guitar (AC/DC, Guns n Roses, Van Halen)
Over time as I was learning these classic riffs, and learning all of these - what soon became - gimmicky guitar solos, my guitar teacher at the time (Howard Johnstone) began showing me the really good stuff. I was exposed to John Mayer’s trio material, which blew my 13-year-old brain, and in the process was turned onto D'Angelo, R&B, Hip Hop, Soul, and Jazz. I began to really dig this “groove” thing and the “feel” kinda attitude. Since then my taste has branched off into many different areas, but R&B, Jazz, Soul, and Blues will always remain a part of what I create too.
Thank you for talking with us Harry, what can we expect to hear next from you?
Thanks a tonne for listening to Half-Shot, hearing some of my stories, having me for an interview and thanks for your words. After Half-Shots out, there will be one more single, Eagles. I’m double excited for this single, as I’ll be having a very special music video coming with it, more to come on that. I’ve also just got back from a trip to Holland, demoing my new songs and playing a Sofar Sounds show, which was a mighty experience. You can expect a live video from that, and of course, you can expect the release of my new album, Everything Is Temporary in June. Peace!