Bill Bachmann - Folk-N-Roller
2011, Flight Of The BumBillB Records
Buffalo native Bill Bachmann got started in the music business opening for the likes of Dave Van Ronk and Steve Goodman. It wasn't long before he was part of the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene, and playing supporting roles on albums from David Massengill, Matt Glaser, Kenny Kosek and Paula Lockheart. Long considered a top-notch guitarist, Bachmann became a standout songwriter as well, with Shawn Colvin, Lucy Kaplansky and Christine Lavin covering his song "Vacation" for Live At The Bottom Line. In 2009, Bachmann released his solo debut, Big World Out There, gaining critical acclaim for both his songwriting and his devilish sense of humor. Bachmann returns in 2011 with Folk-N-Roller, exploring life through the depths of humor, pathos and beauty that define our collective existence.
Bachmann opens with "Folk-N-Roll", a tongue in cheek number about the freedom of strapping on an acoustic guitar without a band behind you. Bachmann makes the exposition catchy, upbeat and fun. "The New Hip Song" is a spoof of "Fever", with the rallying cry of 'Don't cut my femur' as the tag line/punch line. Bachmann's voice works perfectly in this setting, making a fun diversion from a decidedly touchy subject. "B-A-C-H-M-A-N-N" is a folk/bluegrass number that serves as a plea to not misspell Bachmann's name. Bachmann's picking style is meticulous in spite of the light nature of the tune, showing a bit more of his depth as a guitarist with a wink and knowing smile.
"Your Old Man" is a heartfelt and touching folk number that blends self-awareness with memories of his father and hopes for his children. The lyrics speak of love, thankfulness and even the fine edge of the insecurity of impending mortality, as demonstrated in lines such as, "Will you like what you see of your old man in you?" As songwriting goes, this is a 'WOW' moment.
"D.C. Blues" takes on Washington and its apparent inability to take care of the real people it serves. Bachmann skewers every president of last two generations as a representative of a dysfunctional bureaucracy that's more about itself than the good of the people. The catchy folk-arrangement here is perfect. Innuendo and wordplay run wild, particularly on the lap of President 43. "Stuck Here Instead With You" blends jazz, folk and old-time radio ensemble styles portrayed through syncopated barre chords on Bachmann's guitar. It's a catchy, classic sound that will quietly up your admiration of Bachmann as an axe-man.
Bachmann gets into a fun blend of garage rock and folk on "Kill That Other Beer", mixing with a lyrical barrage of rhyme and reason. It's a highly danceable number full of distorted guitar and a puritan musical attitude. "Happily Sad-isfied" is an amusing self-inventory of strengths, weakness and random, oddball characteristics. Bachmann has created a catchy number that's danceable and fun; filled with impressive guitar-fills and enough Woody Allen style pathos to fill a motion picture. Bachmann even explores his own motivations for a guitar solo on the breakdown, pushing off the solo to the next verse where it never quite materializes. This is Bachmann's funniest work to date, but musically it's right up there with his best work as well. Warning: Here the puns run amok.
Bachmann gets serious on "Too Late", a beautiful piece with a stellar melody. This one hits a couple of awkward moments lyrically, but is winsome enough to make up for it. "Candy Man" is a quiet, bluesy rant against the negative qualities of candy. The narrator on this number has an almost murderous hatred of sweet snacks, and vows their utter destruction while Bachmann's guitar work shines in support. "Old MacDonald" explores ways in which modern farms might thrive financially. The country-style arrangement works well here, but the humor factor just isn't in it this time around. Bachmann closes with "Savin' The Things I Love", a paean to the little mementos that serve to remind us of times gone by. Bachmann returns to his roots with classic folk singer/songwriter motif, vowing his continued undying love for her in spite of his pre-occupation with monuments of their past. Bachmann's heart is in this one, and yours will be too.
Bill Bachmann continues to make magic in music on Folk-N-Roller. Whether relating humor-laced stories or heart-felt tales, Bachmann sings with heart and soul in the moment. As a guitar player there are few more accomplished than Bill Bachmann. And although there are a couple of slow moments on Folk-N-Roller, the album generally flows like water – highs, lows and everything in between. Just like life. Get into the pathos of Bill Bachmann. You’ll be glad you did.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)