Album of the Week: Daniel Bachman 'River'
Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:58:21
No other album out this year is as sweet.
In twenty-five years, Daniel Bachman has done more than most people do in fifty. He toured the northeastern United States under the name Sacred Harp, while he was still in high school. He played shows in Turkey when he was just twenty-two. He released music with prestigious record labels like Tompkins Square and Bathetic Records. Moreover, he’s gotten critics everywhere buzzing.
What's more important than what he's done is what he's doing. Bachman's latest album, called River and out now on Three Lobed Recordings, shows that Bachman has matured more musically in the last year or so than every other year he's made music. The individual songs on River work so well together that the whole of the album is not only greater than the sum of its parts, but greater than most art produced this year.
On his previous albums, you couldn't picture Bachman's fingerpicking. He played so fast that, even on his longer songs, it seemed like Bachman was in as much of a hurry as his fingers were. Over the course of his musical career, it's easy to hear Bachman refining his songwriting and playing styles with each release, writing more focused songs, playing them less quickly and more confidently. Now, for the first time, Bachman's music is made in such a way that it finds more reward in rest rather than restlessness.
Indeed, on hearing River, or just reading its name, one gets the sense that Bachman is equally focused on getting to Point B as he is on the way he'll get there–four of its seven songs take more than five minutes to fully unravel themselves; two, forming a two-part suite, are each about eight-and-a-half minutes long, and one song, also reprised at the end of the album, is almost fifteen minutes long. This might read like a recipe for self-indulgence, or "Daniel Bachman Plays Rush," but simply calling these songs and their album well-crafted does Bachman a disservice.
Watch a live performance of "Song for the Setting Sun II" from Daniel Bachman: