A sharp little song presented in a thin, lo-fi setting, “I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face” has a languorous feel that disguises its solid musical chops. Let’s start with the lack of an introduction. Now then, I’ve got nothing against introductions, at all, but songs that manage without them are often pretty cool; it’s a ballsy move as a songwriter to just say “Here it is, folks,” without any throat-clearing to smooth the way.
And Baylin here doesn’t just start right in, she starts right in with the chorus—another unusual, forthright move. And funny, too, if you relate it to the song’s context: the central, repeated lyrical line is: “I couldn’t say it to your face/But I won’t be around any more.” She can’t talk to the person she’s talking to, but she can jump right in and tell us. The chorus itself, furthermore, has an unusual feel and structure. The main lyric is repeated twice at the beginning and once more at the end, sandwiching a separate line that initially feels like it’s going to be the verse but somehow gets wrapped into the chorus. Time signatures toggle back and forth between 4/4 and 6/4 in the process of this sleight of hand, and continue to do so when we glide into and through the verse. It becomes difficult to locate the beat even as the basic, languid movement feels sustained and unwavering, bolstered by the friendly depth of Baylin’s scuffed alto. We get to the end quickly; the song has no fat, and the home recording keeps the sound simple, flattened, and oddly satisfying.
“I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face” is one of five songs on Baylin’s new Pleasure Center EP, available for free via SoundCloud. She made it in her Nashville living room on a four-track recorder with singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Richard Swift. A full-length album, Little Spark, is coming in January. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the lead. Baylin was here once before, in 2008. Trivia buffs note that since then, Baylin was married to Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill.