Recorded in the Tower Circle Hotel in the Hatteras Island city of Buxton, NC, Crooked Fingers and Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann's first official solo album -- not counting his mostly instrumental soundtrack to the independent baseball thriller Ball of Wax -- aims for the rural mystique of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. Fans of Bachmann's gruff Neil Diamond-meets-Steve Earle vocals and lonesome and literate subject matter will find everything they love about the Carolina native on display, while those who prefer his vocal affectations surrounded by the din of a full band should stick with his group efforts. To the Races gets off to a grand start with the tropical imagery-laden "Man o War," a sparse yet majestic opener that utilizes Bachmann's penchant for sharp and rhythmic fingerpicking and uses the lovely multi-tracked vocals of Miranda Brown as a string section. "Carrboro Woman" celebrates the dull ache of a blue-collar love affair, "Genevieve" sounds like an outtake from Mickey Newbury's 'Frisco Mabel Joy, and "So Long Savannah" wraps things up in a reluctant bear hug for Georgia's most colorful coastal town.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger