To the Races
story goes that Eric Bachmann wrote the collection of songs that
make up To the Races (Saddle Creek Records) while voluntarily living
in the back of his van somewhere in Seattle. It makes sense when
you hear a song like "Home," a simple guitar-and-voice
rambler but with a mellow, smoky violin that provides a perfect
counter to Bachmann's own lonely rasp, singing a love song to the
only lady he wants to know -- the one up in the sky surrounded by
all those stars that are his only friends. You can almost imagine
Bachmann, ripe with stink, stepping outside that van one clear evening
and baying at the moon, a crazy strung-out golden-throated hermit
who trusts no one and expects no trust in return.
In simple terms, the
collection is a continuation of the stories Bachmann writes so well
as part of his band Crooked Fingers, a band whose sweet indie lullabies
mask stories of death and loss, all-too-often sung in a voice that
Neil Diamond would happily kill Rick Rubin for. On To the Races,
Bachmann is that sad, angry friend we've all known at some point
in our lives, hardened by a string of bad luck and bad decisions;
he knows nothing will ever go his way again. He doesn't want your
pity; he just wants to be left alone.
On "Carrboro Woman,"
Bachmann seeks a companion for a journey to "a place he has
to go, but doesn't want to go alone." But when he finds a taker,
he makes it clear, "You ain't my woman / And woman I am not
your man." On "Genevieve," a desperate Bachmann can't
get a woman out of his mind, even though he's declared, "What
I cannot have I do not want." While on the desperate junkie
daydream "Genie Genie," Bachmann rubs on every bottle
he can get his hands on wishing for "A million dollars / A
lonely women / Lots of pills / Give me something / I'm looking for
something." But once he finds it, chances are he'll just throw
Take solace in the fact
that while you listen to his paranoid fantasies of loneliness and
despair, you'll be lulled to a comfortable place furnished in lush
finger-picking guitar, chiming piano, ragged harmonica and the swell
of an unexpected violin. Bachmann's songs, as stark and aching as
they may be, are nothing less than purely gorgeous, like all his
friends up in the sky.
Posted Sept. 27,
2006. Copyright © 2006 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
songs, as stark and aching as they may be, are nothing less
than purely gorgeous, like all his friends up in the sky."