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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Dignity and Shame

Dignity and Shame
Crooked Fingers
Dignity and Shame
If my web site (or is it a blog now? I think the kids are calling it a blog these days) were to be believed, I’ve listened to nothing but Crooked Fingers’ Dignity and Shame for the last two years. Records are apparently different than books this way. I tend to read books serially — that is, one at a time, start to finish. I’m not usually one of those people who has a whole stack of books that I’m reading all at once. And when I finish a book, it goes on the stack until I’ve written something about it. And while there is always a backlog, eventually I sit down and knock a couple off the stack.
Bachmann
Of course, records don’t work that way. And the more digitally-dependent I become, the less they work that way. Gone are the days when I would endlessly flip a cassette on the school bus until I had the album memorized. Now it goes into a digital shuffle of thousands of other albums: a playlist 60 days long and growing. Other folks have already adequately lamented the death of the album, and how we’re returning to the days of 45s, except that the 45s are now called MP3s. It’s not quite true in my case; I still buy albums, but they invariably get dissected into their constituent parts and tossed into the Great Shuffle. Which means (among other things) that I hardly ever review albums any more.

But if I did, I would be obliged to point out that Dignity and Shame is a good one. Eric Bachmann has certainly had some musical changes over the years. I remember seeing him first at the Black Cat in the Archers of Loaf days when he was a tower of a young man awash in a sea of electric guitars. And then again at Lounge Ax in Chicago a couple of years later, sombre and solo with only a guitar and an digital delay pedal. And then once more at the old OttoBar in Baltimore with Crooked Fingers, for an acoustic set complete with cello and banjo. Dignity and Shame sets out in the full band direction again, going further beyond the mariachi horns of Red Devil Dawn into full-on orchestrated rock. Not the awash-in-electric-guitars sort of rock of the Archers, but a studio-produced sort of rock awash in mature songwriting and textured instrumentation and the trademark Bachmann gravelly vocals. And I guess maturity ain’t always a bad thing.

“I would change for you, but babe, that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be a better man…” — Crooked Fingers

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