Article by KevW
In the lead-up to his latest album, Eric Bachmann talked about feeling the need to "metamorphose", and it won't be the first time in his career that there have been changes. Alongside solo work, he's perhaps better known for being the frontman of Archers Of Loaf as well as Crooked Fingers, but for 'Eric Bachmann' the idea was to leave little to hide behind, both lyrically and musically. The result is an album that feels incredibly personal and honest, as well as containing some expertly-crafted songs which already have a classic feel to them.
Piano plays a large part in these intimate tracks, but the guitars haven't been thrown out completely. 'Belong to You' works as an ideal opener, introducing you to this more heartfelt style with vocals coming through crisp and clear as the main focal point. With the side guitar, piano and female backing, there's a similar aura to that created by Neil Young circa 'Harvest', and, like Young, Bachmann really shows his mettle as a songwriter. 'Masters of the Deal' feels quite light, playful and at times shimmering, but it's also very thoughtful and one of the more instant tracks here. More tinkling piano follows it on 'Modern Drugs', but again the music tells a different story to the lyrics which deal with serious illness. Although these two aspects might seem at odds with each other, they in fact compliment one another other perfectly.
The outstanding 'Mercy' is perhaps the most powerful statement of all. Lyrically it's the sound of a man who's experienced much of what life can throw at you; a little battered and bruised, but philosophical and with his head held high. On this occasion the backing is a beautiful gospel/doo-wop hybrid with powerful chords that elevate it to another level. It's quite stunning. A similarly rich backing can be found on 'Separation Flight' which seems to fuse traditional alt-country with the kind of Americana mined by Bruce Springsteen, and that influence is felt more subtly on the simmering 'Small Talk'. 'Dreaming' is another soul-baring tune, but this time the arrangement is more spacious and it's this that makes it work so well.
'Eric Bachmann' works best as a full album, but for an easy entry point, the more upbeat alt-rock tinge to 'Carolina' might work best (alongside 'Mercy') and really shows the combination of personal lyrics with arrangements that manage to be both lush and spacious, giving a grandeur but allowing these songs to breathe. You almost feel as though an album like this should have a proper ending rather than seem like an open book, and 'The Old Temptation' does come across that way. Or it at least feels like the end of this particular chapter, if not the story as a whole. This may be a kind of musical reinvention, yet you get the sense that the Eric Bachmann we hear on these songs was there all along, and that it was his previous work that was a reinvention of the person he really is. Whether metamorphosis or realisation, it feels truly timeless.
Eric Bachmann's website
Buy: 'Eric Bachmann'
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