Reviews

To The Races

Author: Karyn Campbell
02/16/2007 | Oregon Daily Emerald | www.dailyemerald.com | Live Show Preview
Few signed singers choose to live out of a van. But Eric Bachmann isn't the average Saddle-Creek-label, indie boy. In fact, he's not an indie boy whatsoever. The North Carolina songwriter got his start after getting cut from the baseball team at age 15. "Apparently I was athletic when I was younger, but when I didn't make the team it was actually kind of a relief," he said. "You fail at one thing and then you start another, I guess."

Bachmann has started anew as a musician a couple times in the last decade as well, though few critics would call his late band Archers of Loaf or former solo-project Crooked Fingers failures. Today, the Chapel Hill music school dropout departs on another tour, this time as Eric Bachmann - writer of stripped-down, simple yet beautiful folk songs.

In his most recent album "To the Races," Bachmann writes melodies that stop time with their calming guitar progressions, light piano accents and playful violin solos played by DeVotchKa's Tom Hagerman. The honesty apparent in Bachmann's self-recorded, non-distorted voice complement the colorful images in his lyrics and the puzzling abstractions that accompany them. Bachmann himself, like many artists, is unsure of the "meaning" behind his songs. Trying to define his music and words is somewhat irrelevant, he said.

"You write about what's important - trying to talk about it seems cheesy or over-sentimental, but the truth is, I just don't know," he said. "The mystery of it is half the appeal."

His lyrics reflect his travels, while his style is rooted in deep American singer-songwriter tradition. In a track called "Man O War" from his latest album he writes, "Set adrift into her swarm-man o war / Caught up in her dangling sting-off the shore / Of a foreign brown sand beach as blue bottles cover you."

Bachmann spent last summer in Guatemala without his guitar.

"I was burnt out," he said. "I'd been playing since I was 13."

He studied Spanish while abroad and stressed his personal admiration for other languages. Bachmann, however, doesn't try to make his worldly endeavors a romantic glamour.

To The Races

To The Races

CD / MP3