In the last decade or so, it's been invigorating to watch new developments in the American Primitive style of acoustic guitar, as it finds new voices and revives its progenitors. By my estimation, enough time has passed since the first Imaginational Anthem and By the Fruits You Shall Know the Roots compilations to influence a younger crop of guitarists. The long-form pastoral works of Cian Nugent, the ghostly Appalachian music of Sam Moss and, here, Daniel Bachman's "Copperhead" all find early-twentysomethings furthering and redefining this music. More than his compatriots, Bachman inherits a hefty but important lineage at 22, but it wouldn't be right to mention it until you've heard "Copperhead."
"Copperhead" opens Seven Pines, Bachman's debut for the label that released those influential Imaginational Anthem collections. The tune rattles and burns like a hot iron on leather, worn strings buzzing with brimstone — appropriate, given that Bachman once handed me a DIY zine he'd written about Pentecostal snake handlers, complete with a list of Appalachian churches to visit for such practices. Around the midpoint of the eight-minute track, Bachman nearly thrashes out the melody with a physicality normally reserved for Slayer's Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King; he conjures chaos with righteous hellfire until he brings us back to earth and lets the blues sing.
When I first discovered Bachman through the live bootlegs of Brooklyn DIY venue Shea Stadium more than a year ago, I likened his confusingly named moniker Sacred Harp (now retired) to a "raw and seeking" Jack Rose. As pointed out by Grayson Currin at Pitchfork, the Fredericksburg, Va., native's new Philly residency is likely to attract even more comparisons to the late innovator, especially since Philly (and Virginia) is where Rose made his home. Throughout his career so far, Bachman has taken the lessons Rose taught us and ingested them in the pursuit of something wilder, yet no less crafted. Seven Pines is where Bachman diverges from the thicketed path and claims his own.
Seven Pines is out now on Tompkins Square.