Need a little adventure in your life but your budget simply won’t allow such a thing? Zac Bauman has you covered with his latest album Bell Jar. The album spans fourteen tracks wide and contains an entire universe that houses Americana, rag, rock and even worldly vibes. The eclectic mix of tracks manage to adhere to one another in a beautiful flurry of charm and whimsy.
Bauman has a lot going for him and he also has a lot to say. He says it all with an enchanting voice that comes off as dreamy and at other times haunting. His lyrics bend in and out of reality. Sometimes they are heavily literal and tell a linear story and other times they take you completely out of the known universe. With words alone he can be romantic, sweet, melancholy or introspective and sometimes you get all of those in one song.
Bauman also has fingers which appear to have been formed specifically for the purpose of guitar playing and picking. His riff execution is effortless and poignant. He has a great many instruments in his tool box and uses them all mindfully. While his bread and butter is definitely guitar, there is something to be said for his banjo capabilities which are excellent. He’s quite the renaissance man when it comes to instruments. You’ll hear him playing things like the flute, ukulele, mandolin and he also does his own key work. His ability to play all of these gives the music an unfathomable amount of layers and depth.
The arrangement of the album is perfection. Some of the songs are brief glimpses into a thought, notion or mood. Some of them are instrumental and some are more lengthy, full-bodied experiences. He does a good job of breaking up the different track styles to create a smooth ebb and flow that makes listening to the album in its entirety very easy.
The best thing that could complement what Bauman is able to achieve is the production of the music. While there is a base in organic, instrumental sound, there is equal parts of electronic influence involved. That influence bleeds into every part of the music, including the vocals. Once again, it’s a sign of the times that the album was recorded and mixed in Bauman’s apartment. When it came to mastering, he enlisted the help of Bill Henderson of Azimuth Mastering. Henderson knew exactly what to do with all the layers in this cake. The sound is so rich and inviting. Even when certain songs are meant to be sweet and lighthearted, you get a professional finish that gives it soul and weight.
This album has the ability to cast a wide net as far as appeal goes. There may be sections or certain moods certain listeners could do without, but there are some tracks that are just too irresistible to pass by. Bell Jar was pulled out of the oven at exactly the right moment and I can tell there was serious labor put into it. Congratulations to Bauman on completing such a fulfilling journey. Hopefully he has the energy to keep moving forward.
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