By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The dark constellation of singer-songwriters formed by Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Tom Waits is no place to go poking around if you can't stand a little self-indulgence. So pomp-averse listeners beware: Crooked Fingers may well get on your nerves. The third installment of this earnest enterprise from former Archers of Loaf singer Eric Bachmann has its share of apocalyptic imagery, compounded by the melodrama of Bachmann's croaky croon--more Neil Diamond than Waits--and pointlessly grandiloquent lines such as, "The gods will say the love we made was a lie."
Oy, those pesky gods. Thankfully, like the best of his predecessors, Bachmann keeps a foot down to earth, as well. His arrangements are forthright, a folksy foundation salted with percussive synth and sweetened by chivalrous strings. It's a sympathetic setting for his melodies, which are classic-sounding and nearly familiar--the breakup tune "Disappear," for example, arches as sweetly as a '60s girl-group tune, complete with "my bay-bee" refrains. Of course, the Ronettes would sound mighty strange observing that, "Red tears flowed down the mountainside/Black dust filled up the starry sky," and such extravagance would sound just as out of place here without Bachmann's overweight intonations to anchor it.
Not surprisingly, the most moving of the album's 10 tracks is also the least bombastic. "Don't Say a Word," elegant as a Celtic ballad, finds Bachmann dispensing with the vocal and lyrical theatrics in favor of a simple and compassionate meditation on loneliness. This kind of uncommon empathy lends Red Devil Dawn flashes of universal appeal. But solemn, mysterious people with momentous, practically mythic personal lives will like it all the more.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city