Eric Bachmann broke out on the scene as the front man for North Carolina's Archers of Loaf. Twenty-five years later and he is ready for his true self to shine through. On March 25th, Eric Bachmann released a self-titled album solo album. While he had a previous solo project under the moniker Crooked Fingers, this is his first work where his name alone represents the project. Bachmann notes the struggles with creating music with a new sound and completely representative of himself, "...after a while the dam breaks, and the compulsion to change becomes overwhelming."

This album is earnest and contemplative. The songs are piano driven with mid-tempo beats and at plenty of "doo-wah-wah" backing vocals for that southern charm. Bachmann's voice is weathered and has a waver that recalls Bruce Springsteen. Bachmann's arrangements and lyric style also recall the post-idealism of the early '70s. There's no more exploring for the truth- it's right there in front of us, as bleak as it always was. For all his candor, Bachmann paints this reality with beauty and just enough optimism to stop bleakness from rearing its ugly head.

Take the second track, 'Mercy'. While backing vocals add doo-wop "wah-wahs", Bachmann opens with the line, "Kill your idols and your fables." It is here the album really kicks into gear. While he later sings about loving his family and friends despite all their craziness, this line is his thesis. It speaks to the idea that we are all human, even the ones we put on a pedestal. He carries this theme of over to 'Masters of the Deal', which is about the 2012 execution in Texas of a killer with a low IQ. Bachmann contrasts the inviting arrangement with the stark reality of the US's criminal justice system. As a native southerner, Bachmann has this to say, "I grew up listening to all of these American Southerners talking about their heritage as if it was a noble thing. But I don't believe them."

Bachmann lightens things up on the catchy 'Modern Drugs'. The song 'Dreaming' is perfect for those twilight hours when the world is still for just a few moments. On the bridge, backing vocalists sing, "Hey love/ don't turn on me now./ I was gonna fight for you." This is repeated numerous times until it becomes a mantra, a meditation for stricken souls.

Eric Bachmann wrote the majority of these songs on piano rather than the guitar (save for 'Carolina', written by his wife, Liz Durret). This is set the pace for the record. And while this was not meant to be a rollicking album, there were times the songs felt a little held back. There were moments where a song was building and building and right when you felt it was going to burst forth, it pulled itself back or just leveled out. This can be countered of course that the type of dynamic changes not present would have chopped up the flow of the album. But with 8 out of the 9 songs over 4 minutes long, a little more variance could have added to the vivaciousness of the lyrics.

Going solo after fronting a band for years is complex. While as a front-person you put your soul into the music and instantly come to mind when people think of the band, ultimately, you represent the band, not yourself. As a front-person, you are part of a cast that makes up a greater whole; you have your character to play and you got to play it well. This is something that can be difficult for listeners to differentiate between- the band self and the true self. And when push comes to shove, sometimes, you just have to let your true self out.