In the context of Christian Hansen’s past career, Baby Drayton is hard to decipher. Musically the project differs from Hansen’s catchy, irreverent, synth-driven pop music under his own name, but Baby Drayton feels lyrically familiar and just as catchy. It’s harder to parse the intent of the project, however, and that’s probably because of the lens through which the songs are filtered.
We’re coded to read folk/alt-country music as songs plucked from an artist’s soul; if the song isn’t deeply personal, it’s drawn from history, nature, patriotism or politics. It’s probably safe to say none of those descriptors apply to Baby Drayton. It is easiest to say Baby Drayton is a persona, but even that isn’t a neat and tidy answer.
The key to Hansen’s intent is probably Money’s title track. Like all Baby Drayton songs, the arrangement is very simple: an acoustic guitar, very sparse percussion, and some echoey production. “Money” is also a three-minute-long command to give him his goddamn money. It’s that simple, and it sets the tone for irreverence to follow. Closer “Leather Jacket” is an ode to wearing the titular item and to which doing so makes you a man. It’s pretty hilarious, particularly the line “Now I’m creaking with intensity.”
If Money were just these two songs, it would be easy to call the project satirical, but the other two songs on the EP are not as clear-cut. “Some Kind of Game” seems to be about a fraught relationship, and Hansen sings like he’s about to break down and cry. Hansen has previously written songs about inheritance, and “The Bunny & The Snake” tells a tale of a motorcycle-riding man who dies in jail and the complicated legacy he leaves his son. It’s an achingly sincere song with a haunting refrain describing a dream.
Baby Drayton is and is not Christian Hansen. Money is both ironic and sincere. Perhaps we’ll have to modify the definition of “outlaw country.”