Daniel Bachman: Orange Co. Serenade

Even before the sound of Daniel Bachman's Orange Co. Serenade fills the room, one guesses that it'll be a bluesier outing than most solo guitar sets given the presence of track titles such as “Little Lady Blues” and “And Now I Am Born to Die.” And indeed the music feels as if born from American soil, specifically the swamp lands and back country of the Deep South. There's an earthiness and plainspoken quality about Bachman's sound that evokes images of wandering souls stealing rides on trains and gazing upon the hillsides and farmlands stretching out before them. It's only natural for Orange Co. Serenade to suggest ties to the music of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Jack Rose, but it's certainly no damning criticism of Bachman that it does so.

He generates a veritable blizzard of blues-drone textures within “Blue Mass,” then slows the pace to a plod for blues-soaked slide playing in “Coming Home,” the guitar shuddering in a manner that calls to mind Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas soundtrack. Bachman digs into his slide and fingerpicking sides with even greater gusto during the deliciously raw shredding of “Little Lady Blues,” and later flavours his country picking with ambient-drone textures on “Up and Down the C & O.” His music traverses multiple moods, from despair to joy and much in between. It kicks up its heels with jubilant uplift on “Pig Iron,” turns wistful halfway through “Little Lady Blues,” plaintive on “We Would be Building,” and eschews resignation for defiant affirmation in “And Now I Am Born to Die.”

Orange Co. Serenade demonstrates once again what one man and one instrument are capable of and proves that in the right hands nothing more is needed. Vinyl, incidentally, is the best format for this release, given its thirty-nine-minute length and that the LP format splits its eight tracks evenly across the two sides. It's the kind of recording I would more have expected to see released on an imprint like Grass-Tops Recording, but kudos to Bathetic for providing an outlet for Bachman's music.

August-September 2014