Mark Baldwin: In the Pocket

Despite a consistently fine performance by its leader and lead guitarist, for the most part, In The Pocket featuring Mark Baldwin (City Lights Music 59:00) fails to find its niche. Baldwin (who also composes and produces here), cuts angular riffs and bluesy, spindly refrains like rays of light through the frothy, labored backgrounds of “Groove Move,” “Sweet Love,” and “Dreaming,” with its needless vocal. The arrangements seem mismatched with the frontman here, with a few notable exceptions. “Down to It” is a sparser, funkier gem in the bunch… more deliberate and rootsy, with guitar and muscular sax up front, and little growls of bass in the background. “Distant Fire” also stands out, with its majestic, building drums and uplifting guitar lines. This tune also features a memorable melodic hook, with more pop/rock in its pocket than anything else on the record