Marketing: Tal Bachman uses ex-Mo status to sell new record

A Soft Answer has the news that it appears that Canadian pop-rock artist Tal Bachman is using his recent break from the LDS Church as part of the marketing campaign for his new album.

A Soft Answer posts this quote from a recent news story on Bachman:

“Tal Bachman has left the Mormons! Kind of makes the usual screwed-by-the-record-company story pale by comparison, doesn’t it? Bachman plays this afternoon at 3 at the Nest on the NAIT campus — a solo ‘story and song’ gig to promote his new CD, Staring Down the Sun.”

And then says: “I don’t begrudge him leaving the Church for his personal beliefs. That must have been a very hard and personal decision. But because I would think it was a hard and personal decision I don’t understand why it is the main angle on stories where he is publicizing his latest effort.”

I completely agree. In a previous post on Bachman, I tried to cut him some slack — suggesting that his openness about his alienation from the chruch was, in part, to give fair warning to his Mormon fans. At the time, it was very clear that this was an important part of his personal life and the type of change that would be important to communicate to his most rabid fans (those that would seek out his Web site).

I find it amusing, however, that it’s become an actual part of the marketing campaign. And despite the spin above, I wonder what is really gained from it.

Yes there is a long tradition of pop artists representing ‘comeback albums’ — Bachman’s last album was released five years ago — as the story of overcoming traumas and travails, but those usually involve addictions, failed relationships, accidents, health problems, major infighting among band members, and, yes, battles with record labels. But it’s not clear to me that losing one’s faith is going to be that compelling of a story to the average pop culture consumer.

As an active Mormon, Bachman was a bit of curiousity. Now he’s just another pop musician trying to make a comeback.

I could be wrong.

After all, The whole premise of these comeback albums seems to be that suffering and turmoil fuels the creative fires and theoretically leads to intense, vibrant music. Bachman’s whole journey away from faith certainly seems to have been the type of turbulent life change that can’t help but impact one’s creative endeavors.

But I don’t know that an album that is the fruit of a personal religious struggle has quite the same verve to it. It seems too subtle — an experience more appropriate for a play or novel.

Note that I’m referring to the way the album is marketed, the story told about it to consumers, and am not making an predictions about its actual aesthetic qualities. I guess I could go buy the album. But I won’t. Not because of any backlash on my part, but because Bachman doesn’t make music that I’m all that interested in. If any AMV readers do buy or listen to it and want to comment on it here or even send me a review to post, I’d love to hear from you.

ALSO: I hate to use the whole “it’s a play on words — get it?” thing again.


Did you notice that the title of Bachman’s new album is “Staring Down the Sun”?

8 thoughts on “Marketing: Tal Bachman uses ex-Mo status to sell new record”

  1. I don’t mind saying that I won’t buy the album, and that the primary reason (pardon the pun) is that he left the church. I really liked his first album. It was well written and well produced. But a large part of its appeal to me was knowing that he was coming from the same place as I was. He connected with me on the LDS level. Now he doesn’t. So, I’m not as interested any more. So, I will look elsewhere.


    Posted by Mark Hansen

  2. David:

    Yep. Those 6 years of literary studies learning how to do close readings of texts weren’t such a waste after all.


    Let us know (via Mo’ Boy — or here) when you do find work that connects with you. I always find Mormons reviewing the work of other Mormons to be interesting.

    Which reminds me: one of these days I need to write something up about Low.  

    Posted by William Morris

  3. Very, very strange. At least he’s made a clear break. There are at least a few artists who you never hear have left the church but their appearance and actions indicate a break with the beliefs 

    Posted by Renee

  4. I own Tal’s album, and think it’s really good. The songs on there have nothing to do with his separation from the LDS church, as far as I can tell, and it’s an all around good album, with many different styles of music. The songs are vaguely linked in that they merge to tell a complete story if you listen from beginning to end.

    The album’s title was chosen by someone Tal knows, based soley on the fact that the person liked the sound of that particular song name. 

    Posted by anonymous

  5. Thanks for the review and the info on the title, anon. I certainly am more inclined to check it out — I really like it when albums have narrative cohesion.

    Of course, the question remains: if the songs have nothing to do with his separation from the LDS Church then why is that part of the marketing of the album?

    Regarding the album title: authorial intention (to use that term loosely but correctly) is all well and fine. But bringing the narrative of Bachman’s disaffection with his faith into the story of the album invites that sort of interpretation. I believe that that’s not what was intended. But that doesn’t change the irony of it for some of us.

    Posted by William Morris

  6. Thanks for the plug. And the “mandate”! 🙂

    I do, from time to time, comment on LDS artists, but usually not in formal “reviews”. That would be a great idea for some future postings.



    Posted by Mark Hansen

  7. I never buy music from someone based on their religious affiliation–LDS or not. If I found out an artist I like was LDS and then left the Church, I am doubtful I would stop buying their music unless their style drastically change.

    It’s no different than changing my taste for Elton John when I found out he was gay, or Jimi Hendrix when I found out he used heroin.

    That being said, I never bought Talmadge’s first album. I doubt I’ll buy the second. 

    Posted by Kim Siever

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