Album Review: Caiti Baker – “Dust (Part 1) EP”

In Dust (Part 1), Caiti Baker’s first release since 2018’s full-length Zinc, the Australian R&B artist offers up a selection of four songs that serve to highlight the appeal of her emotive voice. The smoky, warm tone of Baker’s vocal performance is the biggest attraction here, and the production of each track makes sure that it rises above all else.

The EP begins slowly with “Gone,” a slow-burn that begins with a full piano note and builds in a beat and background vocalists, all the while Baker’s voice maintains lead position. It’s a slight shame the drum-machine rhythms here feel a bit flat compared to the fullness of Baker’s performance, but she and the choir backup behind her fill out the sound and let the smooth refrain of “Gone” go down easy.

“Gasoline” shows Baker’s persona from a new angle, incorporating commanding piano beats and a more hip-hop-infused beat to accompany Baker’s tale of fiery frustration. The song worms its way into your mind, with Baker’s vocals resonating in your mind first, followed by a late addition in the track of trip-hop adjacent notes and frenetic but fluid piano runs. “Saint” offers up a steamier version of Baker’s R&B style, with an intriguing melody that lets Baker show off her abilities even while riding the wave of this song’s surprising rhythm. Again, the finale of the song offers a chance for Baker’s vocals to mix with a haze of instrumentation, to create a swirl of the song altogether. It’s an interesting way to descend from a song’s climax, and it lends the EP a fluid movement while letting the listener bask in the closure of each track.

The EP closer, “Enough,” is the biggest on the album, incorporating layered vocals and some strings to heighten Baker’s emotion. The EP in total, although just four songs is a potent slice of what Baker can do. The mischievous side of Baker’s torrid emotions in songs like “Gasoline” and “Saint” make clear that although her vocals are primed for soul ballads, Caiti Baker has an interest in a variety of genres and the performances that can go with them. The touch of electronica in “Gasoline” in particular adds a new dynamic with which Baker’s voice can be contrasted, and it makes the EP a richer, more compelling listen when these elements bump up against each other. Dust (Part 1) is a rhythmic, soulful taste of Baker’s abilities with plenty of hooks to tide you over until her next full-length release.


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