Bailey Bigger: Smaller Is More 

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Sometimes the perfect cure for these anxiety-prone days is a bit of unhurried acoustic guitar and a simple, open-hearted song. That's how the recent EP by Bailey Bigger, Between the Pages, is striking me today. In fact, I'm tempted to file it next to my Buffy Sainte-Marie records, though that would be a no-no to most archivists.

Musically, they live in the same neighborhood. True, Bigger's easygoing alto is a bit more chill than Buffy's, but the earthy, unaffected singing and lyrics from the heart, with sparse band arrangements adding subtle flavors, are all of a piece with a more mellow era. For that reason alone, this could be just the music you need right now.

Bigger has been on the scene for at least three years, and was known well before that in her native Marion, Arkansas. And part of the mood she brings is a semi-rural mellowness, of a very local variety. The imagery of "Winter Wheat," about a romance with a farm boy that came and went between harvests, rings with details that conjure up farm town life perfectly.

Other lyrics capture the wandering thoughts inspired by the isolation of one's room:

click to enlarge Bailey Bigger
  • Bailey Bigger
Does this flag in my room really mean something to me
Or is it just ideas I've built up in some dream
Some days it feels like I'm beginning to see
I'm already where I'm supposed to be

See the tree tops hanging over town
I've got to fly before I touch the ground
They're many years old and it'd be a shame
If anyone tore them down

But in the end, it's the music as a whole that strikes you. The restrained playing on this record is superb, with Andrew Isbell on drums, Wyly Bigger on organ, Andrew Smith on electric guitar, Ben Walsh on bass, Carlos Gonzales on mandolin, Alice Hasen on violin, and Bailey on vocals and acoustic guitar. Jessica Willis engineered and mixed the record and Bo Jackson mastered it. It was released last October on Blue Tom Records, the label run by the University of Memphis, where Bigger is currently attending the music business program.

Between the Pages was a more experimental record for me,” says Bigger. “Most of the songs weren’t written the way we recorded it. We all just jumped in the studio and went with whatever felt right. All of these songs are from the heart and straight out of my journal, hence the name of the record.”

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