Jesus I’m a Sinner
Deep in the Appalachian woods lies the origins of Daniel Bachman’s mystical fingerpicking. While Bachman hails from Virginia, his music is a familiar yet inventive representation of the rustic sounds that naturally glide through the back country trees. In his latest album, Jesus I’m a Sinner, Bachman narrates an adventure around the different corners of an evocative homeland with his self-proclaimed “psychedelic Appalachia,” all without uttering a word.
Similar to his previous albums, Bachman projects a visceral and evocative landscape for listeners with each pluck of his guitar. With its concise and confessional title, “Jesus, I’m a Sinner” opens up a beautiful yet heart wrenching world of grief and guilt that takes the listener to a place that is eerily familiar, but with mystery lurking underneath each melody.
Bachman dismisses the conventional styles of popular bluegrass without a trace of regret. Instead, he creates an accessible platform for the gritty methods of the unheard back road bluegrass, the kind of music you may never hear unless you’re right there with the performer on their back porch lighting up a crafted corn cob pipe.
However, Jesus, I’m a Sinner isn’t Jed Clampett’s good ole, root-tootin’ hoedown. Songs like “Chattanooga” and the clawhammer crusher “Variations on the Goose Chase” will naturally get some feet stomping (don’t fight the urge), but Bachman soars listeners past a typical good-timey and one-dimensional experience. Jesus, I’m a Sinner ignites as its deeper and darker colors bubble to the surface with the knockout pair of “Sarah Anne” and the standout “Honeysuckle Reel.” From the start, Bachman’s fierce fingerpicking runs rampant in a strange, but spiritual scene of juxtaposed confusion and contentment in these two songs.
Each album is another minor victory for Bachman. While few of his recordings are great diversions from his style of playing, the method of twisted bluegrass he has procured is enough make each visit into Bachman’s magically morose world an unforgettable journey.
— Charlie Shelton
Jesus I’m a Sinner will be available via Tompkins Square on October 8. Watch Bachman perform “Honeysuckle Reel” for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series below.
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