To the Races
Songs from To the Races
To the Races Review
I've had the pleasure of following Eric Bachmann from the early '90s indie rock outfit, Archers of Loaf, to his singer-songwriter project under the Crooked Fingers moniker that eventually evolved into a full-fledged band, to what now appears to be an actual singer-songwriter album released under his own name. Would the real Eric Bachmann please stand up? I think he has. And it turns out he's somewhere between "Solitary Man"-era Neil Diamond, Nebraska-era Springsteen and Johnny Cash doing his mother's hymn book. These would all be compliments, yes.
It's not surprising that the songs have a spiritual feel to them. Bachmann voluntarily lived a solitary life in the back of his van while writing the songs for this album. The songs are definitely the product of an introspective individual getting to his core. To augment the spiritual vibe, Bachmann is joined by hushed angelic voices on a couple of the stand-out tracks: "Man O' War" and "Lonesome Warrior." The album is also highlighted by ballads that Annie Murray would've covered and made hits in the early '70s, like the gentle "Little Bird" (again, a compliment).
But for better or worse, this is not 1972, and as good as this set of songs is, it will most likely go unheard. I can't imagine the majority of Archers of Loaf fans or even the fans of last year's Crooked Fingers album being overly excited about sparse, reflective, singer-songwriter ballads. But I hope I'm wrong and this album finds its audience, because Bachmann's great songs deserve to be heard, whether he's rocking them from a stage or whispering them to himself from the back of a van. - Doug Kamin
All Music Guide Review
Recorded in the Tower Circle Hotel in the Hatteras Island city of Buxton, NC, Crooked Fingers and Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann's first official solo album -- not counting his mostly instrumental soundtrack to the independent baseball thriller Ball of Wax -- aims for the rural mystique of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. Fans of Bachmann's gruff Neil Diamond-meets-Steve Earle vocals and lonesome and literate subject matter will find everything they love about the Carolina native on display, while those who prefer his vocal affectations surrounded by the din of a full band should stick with his group efforts. To the Races gets off to a grand start with the tropical imagery-laden "Man o War," a sparse yet majestic opener that utilizes Bachmann's penchant for sharp and rhythmic fingerpicking and uses the lovely multi-tracked vocals of Miranda Brown as a string section. "Carrboro Woman" celebrates the dull ache of a blue-collar love affair, "Genevieve" sounds like an outtake from Mickey Newbury's 'Frisco Mabel Joy, and "So Long Savannah" wraps things up in a reluctant bear hug for Georgia's most colorful coastal town. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi
To the Races Track Listing
Credits of To the Races
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