Saddle Creek | Eric Bachmann | Reviews


To The Races

08/29/2006 | | | Album Review
Archers of Loaf fans must be forewarned about Eric Bachmannís solo debut album, To the Races. The album is complex, beautiful and exceedingly far from the sound he helped generate with his former bandmates. Moving from creative punk and noise rock to an acoustic oriented, folksy album is a big leap and one which Archersí fans might not be terribly keen about.

Bachmannís songwriting talent is obvious and To the Races is calming and elegant in its simplicity. The album opens with "Man Oí War," a track that immediately invokes Bachmannís experience living in Appalachia by its folk-oriented sound. Like most of the other tracks on To the Races, "Man Oí War" is Bachmann on the acoustic guitar with limited background vocals. This isnít a recording where the artistís talent is lost amidst overproduction and this "keep it simple" approach is one reason why the whole album is so good.

"Genivieve" is a hauntingly beautiful song and fans of Bachmannís lyrics will find these verging on achingly sad. Similarly, "So Long, Savannah" is an excellent example of not only Bachmannís ability to write great lyrics, but also displays his virtuosity with the guitar and fingerpicking style. If "So Long, Savannah" doesnít inspire burgeoning guitarists to pick up their instrument and get practicing, itís impossible to say what will.

"To the Races" is a track unlike any other on the album. For this song, Bachmann concentrates entirely on the guitar and omits vocals of any sort. Instead, he pairs the violin with more complex fingerpicking for an outstanding track. Slightly Eastern European in sound, "To the Races" is a song that could easily be part of a movie score. However, just two songs later, Bachmann switches gears again with "Little Bird." If "To the Races" is reminiscent of a movie score, "Little Bird" evokes the sad beauty of a lullaby. More complex compared to some of the other songs on the album, "Little Bird" incorporates piano and tight vocal harmonies along with Bachmannís stellar acoustic guitar work.

It is virtually impossible to pick a favorite song from To the Races as each of the ten tracks has something special going for it. Many Archers of Loaf fans loved Bachmann for his quirky and clever song lyrics and while he may have stripped down his style and matured as a writer, those beautiful lyrics are still present. It may have been a long time coming, but Bachmannís solo effort has been well worth the wait.
To The Races

To The Races

CD / MP3