When: Sat., Nov. 12, 10 p.m. 2016
If you look at the four LPs Daniel Bachman has released since 2013, you won't find a clunker in the bunch. Jesus I'm a Sinner, from 2013, and 2014's Orange County Serenade both shone with rough-around-the edges charm, while last year's excellent River found the guitarist further refining his compositions.
On Bachman's latest effort, a self-titled LP released last month via Three Lobed Recordings, the young guitarist offers his most careful and thoughtful playing yet.
Bachman is a master at managing both tightly wound flurries and delicate open spaces, but here, he more often mines the latter. Rather than vibrating with anxious energy, these songs feel patient and calm even in moments of doubt; Bachman replaces his nervous melodic chatter with quiet moments of reflection, crafting a significantly more mature album in the process.
The record opens with "Brightleaf Blues (I)," with a scraping drone yielding to spacious, low strums. It's a tense invocation that feels like a "made ya look" before Bachman drops you back into his familiar tones. Three tracks later, "Brightleaf Blues (II)" unfolds gradually across fourteen and a half minutes, the hazy drone returning under Bachman's picking. As the drifting piece meanders, it feels as though you're following along with Bachman as he wanders through his own foggy cloud of uncertainty.
And though it doesn't quite feel right to call Bachman a country artist, the country still seeps its way into his earthy playing. "Watermelon Slices on a Blue Border Plate" conjures images of rural summertime, both in its title and Bachman's wobbly, sliding licks. It feels like all that's missing is a breeze blowing through a porch chime. Likewise, "Wine and Peanuts" and "Farther Along" paint cozy, comfortable little portraits. Bachman's work, even on his more far-out pieces, has always felt firmly tied to his Southern roots. Expect those to be unraveled and exposed when he returns to Chapel Hill. Ama Divers and Nathan Golub open. —Allison Hussey