I first came across Melanie Baker, a young Cumbrian indie-folk singer-songwriter, in the course of her gruelling but rewarding month of busking and gigging during the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe. Suitably impressed by her live performance and her 2018 debut EP, Dreamer, I’ve followed her musical progress with interest ever since. Baker’s second EP, Broken, a collection of six elegant and intelligent indie folk-pop gems, signals a step-change in her development, as she writes and sings with great directness and honesty about the emotional rollercoaster of falling in and out of love, and of the opportunities and challenges presented by the modern world. She has a real gift for melody and her songs have a classic, timeless feel.

In the title track, Broken, Melanie Baker sings movingly of a failed love affair, over the gentle rise and fall of her acoustic guitar. Sweeping cello and spectral shards of electric guitar heighten the sense of sadness, although an unexpected quickening of tempo towards the end of the song suggests a sense of defiance and hope for the future. Better Than This is a graceful piano ballad which captures perfectly the all-pervading sense of despair felt when love is lost, and it closes with an achingly beautiful cello solo.

Resonant acoustic guitar strumming, and the gentle caress of Melanie Baker’s vocals bring a transatlantic feel to Honey, a reflective piece on former lovers growing apart with the passage of time. The poignancy of Baker’s piano and a soaring cello solo reflect the bitter ending of love in Love Isn’t Meant To Make You Feel Alone. Rhythmic acoustic guitar, percussive bass and angular electric guitar lines feature irresistibly in Modern World, in which Baker notes ruefully that “…in a world so connected, I’ve never felt more shut out…”.

Captivating piano chords usher in the EP’s closing song, Babe If You’re Listening I’m Sorry, in which Melanie Baker sings wistfully of the sacrifices which can become necessary in the pursuit of dreams and ambitions, and she brings things to a suitably poignant conclusion with feathery vocals and a lingering piano chord.

With her second EP, Broken, Melanie Baker has delivered six songs of real quality and signalled her emergence as a singer-songwriter of true talent and great potential.

Broken will be released by Melanie Baker in early 2020.