Patron Saint, Garret Baker
One of the most interesting discoveries I’ve made since coming over to Ireland has been a series of gatherings where Dublin’s Ukulele players congregate above a pub and swap songs for a few hours every month. Garret Baker, a singer-songwriter from the Dublin folk scene, is a regular at these events, and his songs alone have made attending these nights mandatory in my mind. After the last Uke Night I, unbeknownst to Garret, purchased his album The Magpie on Bandcamp and I’ve been enjoying it all month. He writes simple, approachable lyrics and has a penchant for dextrous fingerpicking, which you can hear on this track but shines even more without the production elements of this specific recording. In many ways, “Patron Saint” is a quintessentially Irish song- it has a sense of self-awareness and personal dejection that combines with the central Christian metaphor to capture feelings that the Irish have struggled with for the past few centuries of their history. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and lost souls, and the lyrics of this song reflect the contradictory nature of praying for a cause that seems fundamentally futile. The reverent irony in the track is supported by a generally introspective, tranquil sound that comes from the effects on his Ben Gibbard-esque voice and the gentle ukulele riff, which is interrupted only for the section of the song that actually takes the form of a prayer. The whole tune has a simple and depressing sense of beauty to it, mostly deriving from the images of personal difficulty, conflicted feelings and “pale-skinned wraiths.” It also has one of the most jarring first lines I’ve heard in awhile, immediately grabbing the listener’s attention and keeping it from the very beginning. Its well-crafted lyrically and musically- I look forward to the next Uke gathering to hear more of his material.
Check out more music from Garret here.