Breaks in the Armor
Just ahead of the jubilant storm that greeted the return of his influential Archers of Loaf, Eric Bachmann made another lovely Crooked Fingers album that bolsters his status as a truly sophisticated songwriter with enviable duality. Within the evolution of Crooked Fingers over the past decade-and-change, Bachmann has exhibited a radical vocal transformation between his two best-known musical outlets. In Archers, he (still) sounds gruff and intense, practically barking out the clever wordplay in the band's infectious, topsy-turvy songs. In Crooked Fingers, he's mostly the opposite; the tension is just as high, but with a more deliberate delivery: he's raspy yet clearly enunciates his well-crafted lyrics. In full troubadour mode, Bachmann can recall Neil Diamond, even when he sinks his teeth into meaty fare like "War Horses" and wails like Steve Earle might, damn near bellowing "Black Candles." But with its richly layered arrangements and intimate framework, Breaks in the Armor is generally pleasing, and one of the finest Crooked Fingers releases yet.
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