by Jay Mattson
I truly, honestly, and completely believe that Ryan Baer will be the next prolific folk artist to go down in musical history among company such as Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, and Woody Guthrie. Under the moniker The Haret, Baer takes Depression-era folk music and gives it a fresh coat of paint without deterring from roots deeply planted in American blues. It has been quite awhile since an artist or band has hit me so hard so quickly. The Haret put countless, far more famous artists to shame with his effortless, breathtaking jangles about women, traveling, and drinking.
The Haret sound like a 1940s Mississippi blues quartet that would be far more comfortable on the front porch of the general store than a modern music venue or bar. Instead, live recordings have revealed that Baer often performs this music alone… on the street. In fact, the live recordings of Baer are partly the reason why I was so fascinated with him in the first place. Baer plays three instruments at once. While picking at a banjo, he also sings his lyrics or blows into a harmonica. The part that makes Baer’s street performances so intriguing is the full-sized acoustic bass that he’s reconditioned into a foot-operated instrument with pedals and all. He plays everything all at once and it’s impressive, to say the least.
Unfortunately, words do little to convey the soul and passion Baer lays into his music. His raspy ramble of a voice works perfectly with his three-repeat chorus and callback. And while the album has many original tracks, I find Baer’s take on traditional blues and folk songs (i.e. – “Going to Germany”, “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It”, “Take A Drink On Me”, “Stackolee”) to be simply infectious. He manages to take the original song and make it his own on every level. It’s difficult to sincerely empathize with songwriters of the Depression era if you aren’t somehow directly connected to that time period, but The Haret recall those years with such vibrant and rich fervor that Baer should be considered as an equal to the folk greats of decades passed. And this is a guy from Ontario, Canada! Boy, those Canadians can sure make some great Americana…
The Haret – Take A Drink On Me
The Haret – Going to Germany
The Haret – Ghost Girl