Bailey’s concept raises an immediate question: “Why?” You can buy your favorite bands’ concert DVDs, but that’s not the same thing as buying a ticket to see them live where their music washes over you in full. Watching In Between on YouTube, you don’t get the latter, only the former, and not for nothing but Bailey’s chosen venue, observed on a screen, doesn’t lend depth to his sound (though for what it’s worth, the brick-walled apartment doesn’t scream of gimmickry, either). If anything, the YouTube clips feel superfluous, failing to deliver on live music’s promise or offer an alternative justification for being. It’s rather like Dorothy pulling back the curtain on the Wizard. To look upon Bailey in the flesh is to dilute the effect of the exercise.
It’s nice, at least, to put a face to the name, the lyrics, and the musicianship, but In Between is best enjoyed aurally and not visually. Deprived of his image, Bailey’s music weaves its raw and imperfect magic (these, again, being his own words). His lyrics strike with heightened urgency. His guitar work, too, rings earnest and true, if he occasionally squelches his notes. In Between is near-brilliant in ideation; taking a cynical view, one might accuse Bailey of making excuses for gaffs by selling it in parts on its flaws, and if that’s the view you take you might buck him faster than a horse bucks a rider. But it’s difficult to mistake, his good, introspective intentions as we listen to him talk about love (“…so we spent those years building a galaxy,” “Movie Stars”), grief (“They remembered her in their shame/it’s the only way they know to cope,” “Daylight”), and even the purpose of music, as on the EP’s opener, “Melody.” It’s Bailey’s sincerity that carries In Between, even more so than his talent.
But most of all he’s able to pull us into the room with him with harmonies coated by reverb. The record suggests openness, reminds us at every turn that we’re hearing a person play without the benefit of a studio; if the effort isn’t always successful, In Between’s “take it as you hear it” vibe is never less than respectable.