Acoustic guitarist Daniel Bachman floored fans and critics with his sixth album, 2015's River. That set, and in particular its long opener "Won't You Cross Over to That Other Shore," revealed the guitarist not so much as a gifted technician -- though he certainly was and is -- but as a composer sketching, articulating, and quietly relating narrative melodies in a seductive, beguiling, and lyric whole. This self-titled follow-up is altogether different.
Daniel Bachman has released an astonishing amount of high-quality music in recent years. What makes the feat even more impressive is that he's just 27 years old. The Virginia-born wunderkind and fingerstyle guitarist of the American Primitive persuasion has 16 official releases to his name since 2011. His latest, a self-titled effort, is a dizzying display of his enviable talent.The album gets underway with "Brightleaf Blues I," a fine opener that begins with a screeching drone before settling into some slide guitar reminiscent of Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas soundtrack.
Fingerpicked acoustic guitar is a hit-or-miss proposition: When it works, the rolling, repetitive figures it produces can be hypnotic. But it’s easy for even a great player to drift into auto-pilot. The antidote seems pretty simple—pause, stretch, slow, or otherwise disrupt your habits—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Muscle memory is hard to kick.
Before we get into the newest missive from Virginia steel-string worker Daniel Bachman, let’s talk a little bit about Jack Rose. Few guitarists loom larger over the modern fingerstyle movement than Rose, and the man’s tragic, much-too-early passing has only compounded his legendary status within the rustic circles of contemporary folk. Rose is oft-heralded as an innovator and a boundary-pusher in the field of instrumental Americana, but that tag has always seemed a bit off to me.