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coverpic flag US - Michigan - Full Moon 239 - 02/22/16

Chris Bathgate
Old Factory EP
Quite Scientific Records

Chris Bathgate is a folk singer/songwriter based in Micigan, in the Ann Arbor-area. Or: in the small town Pinckney in Putnam Township, Livingston County to be more precise. Indie-folk, yes. 'Electric folk', that is, as his guitar is of the electric type. He's said to be a player from the 'Ypsilanti folk music scene'. 'Ypsilanti is the Brooklyn to Ann Arbor's Manhattan', according to Wikipedia, and it's known from Sufjan Stevens' song "For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti" (off his Michigan album). Iggy Pop grew up near Ypsilanti, but that's some other story. Long before the hipster phrase reappeared.

Since his first, self-released (short and long) recordings Dead Eyed Stranger (2001), Create and Consume (2003), Time Heals All Wounds (2004), and Silence Is For Suckers (2005), Bathgate has put out a number of albums/mini-albums/EPs including Throatsleep (2006, re-released by Fox On A Hill, 2007), The Single Road I Long For (2006), A Cork Tale Wake (Quite Scientific, 2007), Wait, Skeleton. (self-released, 2008), and Salt Year (Quite Scientific, 2011). The Old Factory, an EP holding five-tracks is his latest record, being a very nice introduction to Bathgate's world of musical, melodic songcraft. 'I write songs. Some are simple, some are not. Some are nostalgic, some come from dark places. Some are written from your perspective, some from mine. Some switch back and forth. Some I play a lot, some never. Some were written in stairwells of parking garages, some were written at a friend's parents cabin. Some were recorded in (your) bedroom, some in my basement. Some took a long long time to finish, some I knew before I wrote them. Some I have forgotten, some I haven't learned yet.' Bathgate has been compared to artists like Sufjan Stevens, Will Oldham, Sam Beam (b.k.a. Iron & Wine), and Damien Jurado. Well, Jurado's music might be slightly related. Besides that Bathgate makes me recall artists like Richard Hawley, Eric Matthews or someone else I can't name right now. The drive and swirl of the opening, riveting "Big Ghost" is impressing. Bathgate and his players (who are/were: Colette Alexander, Eric Bolivar, Samantha Cooper, Dan Haefs, Nick Harp, Keith Kinnear, Graham Parsons, and Chad Pratt) give us a safe, nice and warming tour throughthe EPs five tracks. "Acorns" is darker, more thoughtful, while the piano accompanied "Wait" is a precise desciption (in mood, mode and tone) of how it is to wait for a long time for someone. Bathgate's songs, or lyrics handle the troubles of life and love. The big issues, right.

When describing his songs, Bathgate continues: 'Some make me shiver when I hear them, some I cannot sing. Some are allegorical. Some of them are earlier versions of a different song but sound nothing alike. Some are so encoded so that you cannot figure out it is about you. Some are so obvious that you can't figure out it is about you. Some are about love as an idea, some are about love as an action. Some are musically modeled after the progression of a relationship between two people, some were written in a very small room in Maine.' He'd better continue to write songs. Wherever and whenever he does it, whatever they are about.

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