'09 saw Bill Bachmann's Big World Out There and made me an instant fan; 2011's Folk 'n' Roller only reinforces that affinity. Once again this one-man band has composed, played, recorded, and released a disc all by his lonesome, using only Rolling Stones / Shawn Colvin / Brian Wilson engineer Don Grossinger to master everything, a choice that has resulted in an atmosphere calling back to the old Vanguard and other recordings of solo troubs and ensembles like Richard Fariña and Country Joe and the Fish, where an intimate, open, breathing environment sheds the plasticene Big Radio Sound for woodsheddingly fresh air.
Don't think that virtue is lost on anyone, either, as Bachmann's played guitar for Paul Siebel, The Song Project, and others while Smithsonian Folkways Recordings placed one of his cuts in with Suzanne Vega, John Gorka, and various heavy-hitters. Then his Vacation proved to be so popular that Shawn Colvin, Lucy Kaplansky, Christine Lavin and others featured it on the Live at the Bottom Line CD. Thus, Bachmann's kind of a…Tom Snow? Randy Edelman? Henry Gross? Yeah, okay kinda, but I'll take his releases over those saccharine songcrafters' LPs every day of the week, thrice on Sunday, and cuts like Happily Sad-isfied show why. Bachmann's nothing if not clever as hell, and here, instead of playing a middle eight solo, scientifico-psychologically explains why he really shouldn't. Too damn hilarious: a spoken-word apology for refusing to titillate which nonetheless stands as just that…with a sardonic smirk.
You can just imagine what Kill that Beer, Your Old Man, Stuck Here Instead with You are about, and his rip on Old Man MacDonald will have you combing your memory, trying to recall whether the old goat was really that much a prick…and that hip. Bachmann's a master of the pun as well as a deft surgeon with words qua words, supplying piano, electric and acoustic guitar, bass, drums, synth, and backing vocals (with a bit of assistance from Alyssa Bachmann) as a backdrop to his wit, pathos, remembrances, and meanderings. However, he does indeed pen a serious track or three, so you'll also have a sober moment here and there. I suspect, though, that all his listeners, much as they may dig his more gravid moments, treasure the guy for that unstoppable amusement with life, words, and exposition.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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