Richard Buckner | Meadow (Merge)

The very next track, "Canyon," carries the same feel of vocal dryness and sloping manner from Buckner, but the music gives the style new life, forcing a new outlook upon listeners who may fear a monotonous record.

 

cd_bucknerAlthough Merge Records gets its firepower from more classic releases (the Arcade Fire, Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel), there are some low-key records that seem to give the label more taste and depth than one might originally think. Richard Buckner is one of these flavors. Buckner has been around for quite some time doing his usual folk thing: solo guy, a guitar, lonely songs, etc. But now he's come out with a roots-rock album, a change of pace for Buckner and a bigger surprise to all those folkie die-hard fans. This might pose a problem if it weren't for the fact that Meadow is a good album.

Buckner's voice is rough and sometimes off tempo. His guitar work is at times, a little choppy. His melodies have a tendency to run together from song to song at different points on Meadow. No doubt that the album could be better executed by more polished studio musicians or more spot-on producing. Fortunately for us, Meadow was made with the kind of passion and free spirit that makes for wonderfully unplanned goodness. The kind of unabashed looseness that makes the album so starkly honest is also what allows for pure appreciation for what Buckner does with his songwriting. The man flat out writes good songs, structured by solid lyrics, complete with sandpaper vocals and wonderful, dirty instrumentation.

Meadow opens up with "Town," encasing a very up-and-down vocal pattern from Buckner, flattering the driving tune behind it. The very next track, "Canyon," carries the same feel of vocal dryness and sloping manner from Buckner, but the music gives the style new life, forcing a new outlook upon listeners who may fear a monotonous record. This is certainly not a boring album, but it does play it very safe. The realm in which Buckner finds himself is as artistically endearing as it is protected by its stubbornness.

Another standout track, "Kingdom," combines the subtle guitar work that Buckner is so fond of with slow, rolling drums that somehow brings the song to (as contradicting as this is to say) a constant crescendo, seemingly never ending-not that you'd ever want it to.

Buckner is a known veteran of the folk scene. It's fitting that he'd somewhat stray from that route on Meadow, now that the genre is picking up steam in the indie rock community. Innovate and vacate. Isn't that what the great ones do anyway? B+

RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Kris Kristofferson, Wilco

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply