Songwriter Rayland Baxter is a dreamer, a very fine one, as a matter of fact. He is one of a misty-eyed gentlefolk seeking prosperity in a soul, in the soul. He’s a wanderer
of the highest regard, with hazy matter, loosely based on his waking hours, conditions, remarks and interactions, all that he finds suitable to chronicle in his ledger and diary. He made a record entitled “Feathers & Fishhooks,” three years ago and the men, or man, that he introduced us to were of the fluttery variety. They found that they were utterly consumed by their wanderings, by the ifs, the white noise and the unseen phantoms whispering it all breathy and hot into their ears.
Baxter, who calls Nashville home, is a keen observer not just of a non-thing thing like the human condition, but more so an observer of how he reacts to that non-thing thing called the human condition and just how people relate to one another. He appreciates the nuances of those who fail one another, or those who mean to let each other down. He appreciates even more those who intend to be sweet, those who will remain, holding a hand warm or cold and falling into surreal rhythm together. “Imaginary Man,” his second long-player, is an exquisite new exploration of the disorienting qualities of real life and what they drive us to conjure in our sleep, when we’re lucky enough to get it, when we allow our days to be through. It’s a mellow current of open water, touching muddy banks, carving out a sensation of desire and great hunger. People must be more. He must be more, better and kinder. Love must touch more and be more visible. People need people and they need beauty and mercy in abundance. It all needs to be there and Baxter finds this tumbling course a fascinating one.
“I see people abuse the world. There’s lots of evil out there, but we’re given the gift of life to live on this beautiful world. We’re all fucked, but we’re all winning in the end,” he says.
“Imaginary Man” gives us a portrait of a man, via characters, whose hallucinations are wishful and nearly productive, almost productive. They hope for guidance. They might even pray. They are looking for shared breaths, for a togetherness that they’re missing, or that they once had and lost. They fear that they’ve been better people in the past, but that they can redeem themselves. Baxter places common uncertainties into bodies who itch with them. They levitate with them and turn them over in their hands, working them out with a radiant warmth, tripping happily into new wrinkles of life and into other lives not their own, all the while still recognizing that they’ve been taking advice and medicine from roosters, poets and the nighttime spirit of Rodriguez, the tour guide of a dilapidated Detroit. These are love songs to the foggy myths and the open ends of every one of us. They’re meant to speak to us like the sirens do and they’re bound to light us on fire, or break our damned hearts.