It’s hard to write about Eric Bachmann and his new solo effort To The Races without comparing it to his previous work with Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers. However, it is worth a shot simply for the reason that while this is still the same Eric Bachmann, it is very stripped down so that it is just Eric Bachmann.
Recorded solo in a North Carolina hotel, the intimate, but fitting arrangements feature perfectly executed string parts ("To the Races"), tasteful harmonica ("Carrboro Woman"), and comforting piano ("Little Bird") in all the right places. While these don’t even pretend to take the album out of the "guy with a guitar" singer/songwriter genre, they certainly support it in a very appropriate and beautiful way. Bachmann’s trademark ravaged sounding vocals drift along over the top of earnest melodies that entrench themselves into one’s psyche after only one listen (especially on album highlight "Man O’ War"). These elements comprise a pretty strong argument for the beneficial effects of the quiet North Carolina countryside on Bachmann’s musical direction, making To The Races a compelling release.