Crooked Fingers Dignity and Shame

Crooked Fingers Dignity and Shame
The transformation of Eric Bachmann is among the most startling in the annals of indie rock. When the Archers of Loaf leader left his seminal band behind, there was little to suggest he would indulge his passion for the folk-rock of Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond. But here we are, four Crooked Fingers albums in with Bachmann replacing his gruff bark with a rendition of Diamond’s crooning style. It’s a voice that is well-suited to Dignity and Shame, a classically romantic album whose concept may or may not be about legendary matador Manolete and his young girlfriend, Spanish actress Lope Sino. If the artwork’s bullfighting motif is vague, then the infusion of mariachi-styled guitars and Latin rhythms is a stronger clue. The record begins with the unassuming instrumental "Islero,” which soars forward into the impassioned "Weary Arms.” The Archers are invoked on "Call to Love,” a splendid duet between Bachmann and Australian vocalist Lara Meyerratken, who creates highlights throughout the record. For his part, Bachmann remains one of America’s most important songwriters. This fact is apparent on distinctive numbers like "Destroyer,” as much as it is on his "Sweet Caroline” rewrite, "Valerie,” or the Billy Joel-inspired, piano man title track. Dignity and Shame finds Bachmann celebrating romantic ideals, both within the concept of love and the classic American song form. (Merge)