Crooked Fingers is the solo project of Eric Bachmann, who as frontman for the now defunct indie rock band Archers of Loaf recorded angst-driven noise pop throughout the '90s. The dark, intimate ballads of Crooked Fingers' 2000 debut found Bachman going in a new direction, expressing a quiet grace that took many Archers fans by surprise.
Crooked Fingers' latest, "Red Devil Dawn," is another stunning collection of baroque melancholy and poignant complexity. "There ain't no easy way to lose/ The heart you call your home," Bachmann sings on "Don't Say a Word," his deep, raspy croon falling somewhere between Neil Diamond and Tom Waits.
Adding horns and string arrangements to some songs, such as the standout "Sweet Marie," Bachmann occasionally creates a cheerful energy that makes you wonder if somehow a glimmer of hope shines through all the despair. However, a quick scan of the lyrics reaffirms that he is writing exclusively about broken hearts and loneliness.