Crooked Fingers is Eric Bachmann. On his fourth full-length, he's supported by a cast of returning players from his 2003 breakthrough release, "Red Devil Dawn" and a few new faces who bring a depth and intensity to his songs. Embracing great traditions of American music from Appalachian folk, southwestern blues, country, and good old rock 'n' roll, Crooked Fingers take their place alongside artists as respected as Bruce Springsteen, Calexico, and Wilco, while maintaining a kinship with new storytellers like Songs:Ohia, My Morning Jacket, and Will Oldham.
Erich Bachman continues his plunge into good ole Americana on the Crooked Fingers fourth longplayer. This time, its a Southwestern-leaning record; the opening track, "Islero," is a delightful, mariachi-inspired instrumental. These Calexico
-ish touches, however, are primarily window-dressing, as its not like Bachmans really changed his Springsteen-in-Appalachia style. The albums tunes are all sincere, at times painfully so. These are stripped-down and confessional songs that, while musically good and everything, yearn strongly for better lyrics--either the weighty poetry of a Leonard Cohen
or the ironic remove of a Joe Pernice
. As it is, the songs seem to sit on the fence, never fully drawing the listener into their tales of love gone wrong. A notable exception is "Call to Love," a straight-ahead burner which sounds more than a little like a collaboration between the Eels
and Tom Petty
. --Mike McGonigal