When the Roses Come Again
“Summer’s Fingers Sweetly Linger (Everywhere On Every Side),” is one of the more evocative songs (and titles) off of Daniel Bachman’s latest offering, an album that takes a line from the Carter Family’s classic song, “When The Roses Come Again” to title and provide thematic purpose for each of the fifteen ambient folk songs therein.
It’s fitting for Bachman, who comes from a lineage of folk and country musicians, (his descendants performed both original and traditional music as The Hostetler Blind Family Band in the Alleghany Mountains years ago,) and who has released a slew of instrumental records to critical acclaim and deep listenership himself.
It is not only a rumination on life, death, and rebirth, via the metaphor of a blooming garden rose, but a commentary, it seems, on the evolution and purpose of music itself. Taking influence from the likes of Brian Eno and others’ ambient works, it works to evoke the same feeling of longing and satisfaction as the Carter Family song does upon listening, but with the heightened attention to emotional detail that an ambient album demands of you and supplies for you. It is as if this new music, bearing much the same sensation, (it is the wonder of this album, that Bachman is able to make you feel the titles of the songs, solely through the playing and sonic manipulation of instruments, almost wholly performed and recorded by himself); it is as if this new, evolved flower grew from the seed of flowers that lived and died before it, reflecting not only the cycle of life, but the evolutionary quality of it.
For the seasoned ambient listener, there is a welcome melodic and atmospheric feel to much of the album, and a dynamic arc of sonic storytelling, including pleasure and pain, love and loss, death and rebirth. To the uninitiated it might be too simple a format to really sink your teeth into, one of my personal balking points with ambient music. But with the history and the pathos of the album, it is a compelling listen, from start to end, and a treat of a “concept album” that helps us transcend the pop standard element of older folk music. There is something cerebral about good ambient music, that allows you to feel the same things that pop music evokes, while thinking about the world around us, (nature, industrialized or rural settings, the “non-musical” sounds that evoke such a big response in us,) the Fibonacci-like pattern of life, and to acknowledge the way each of us puts a different fingerprint on the lives of those around us.
Much like a blooming rose, there is a sweet and sentimental fragrance to Bachman’s offering. And much like Eno and others before him, it allows you to slow down and ponder, (like the song “As I Wander, I Will Ponder (On A Happy By and By).” Bachman is a consummate string player and his simplified arrangements on this record breathe life into the meditative nature of the album, in much the way contemplating upon a blooming or dying rose (or a separation from or reunion with a loved one, as it may be,) is not soundtracked so much by bells and whistles as perhaps a sole bell or whistle of feeling in the heart. His album certainly plucks a heart string.
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.