To The Races
Author: John Somers
12/20/2006 | Transformonline.com | www.transformonline.com | Album Review
With the musical style of Simon & Garfunkel and the lyrical style of Bob Dylan, Eric Bachmann offers up an agreeable, yet uninspiring folk album that falls well short of his very apparent influences. Written while Bachmann was in self-imposed solitude (living in the back of his van), To the Races offers a minimal set littered occasionally with piano, violin, and backing vocals that seem to lack a certain spark and integrity needed to pull it off. Bachmann's guitar playing does convey a pleasant humanity with finger noise and the occasional off beat note, though the charm can't bear the weight of its overuse and quickly disperses after the first few numbers. At its foundation, To the Races suffers more from what is not there than what is, floating through the better part of its 38 minutes with an apathetic lightness. The presence of some truly nice moments confuses the experience further, creating a shifty listen as if someone was to speak with words of virtue only to follow it with shallow contradictions. For instance, opener "Man O' War" spins a delicate and optimistic picture of where this record could go, only to be followed by contrived and uninspired songs like "Home" and later with "Genie, Genie." To the Races is ultimately a reflection of songs lacking the raw backbone and sincerity needed to carry a record from start to finish, revealing it takes a lot more than a funny hat, a pair of boots, and some good ol' fashioned suffering to carry the tradition of song well.
CD / MP3
CD / MP3