Essential New Music: Daniel Bachman’s “The Morning Star”

Whichever celestial body you apply it to, the morning star is that bright light you see in the sky just before dawn. If The Morning Star is anything to go by, Daniel Bachman’s been through a long, dark night. The acoustic guitarist’s last album featured pristinely recorded instrumental appreciations of the good things in life and hopeful-sounding, gospel-steeped themes.

This time, his steel-stringed acoustic guitar shares space with consciousness-obliterating drones and cellphone field recordings of squabbling birds and raging radio preachers. Alternating between resonant fingerpicking and voluptuous slide explorations, Bachman’s playing seems to be searching for resolutions that remain quite out of reach for most of the album’s four sides. It’s a harrowing but ultimately cathartic trip.

—Bill Meyer