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Richard Buckner – Our Blood Reviews

Richard Buckner’s compositions can’t be defined under one umbrella term. ”Alt-country” applies well enough, but then the track wanders off the track and becomes a different style entirely, turning corners into unexpected harmonies. On Our Blood (Merge) his lyrical focus is on human experience’s gray and dark side, a thematic odyssey which has punctuated his style since his first release Bloomed in 1994. When you consider the trials Buckner encountered during the making of Our Blood, including a stolen laptop and a legal hassle, it’s fitting that he sounds exhausted here.

Buckner reaffirms his musical showmanship by not tripping my “Oh enough already!” switch despite the bleak subject matter. Part of it has to do with his aggressive acoustic approach, the other his voice: it’s broken in, the audio equivalent of a pair of old, comfortable jeans. You can hear him nurturing his sadness, tending it tenderly and showing spontaneous flashes of humor. When he goes momentarily silent during a song, the music keeps the conversation going.

“Traitor”

opens with the provocative line, “You woke up too late/ To know what they thought.” Melding hard-strummed guitar with synthesizer and deep tribalesque drumming manages to be both penetrating yet pleasurably mellow. Bookended by distortion effects, “Escape” has Buckner’s gritty, almost ethereal signature all over it, one of a tired, sad man who is nonetheless undefeated by said weariness. The track’s saved from what could have been a surrender to the tonal drag by a sudden energetic surge forward in melody. This is a man who pays attention to the mistakes he and other people make.

“Witness”

mines the sadness and day-to-day difficulty of regret over a failed relationship, of yearning and needing but not having with no detectable chance to have again. A line on “Confession” pretty much says it all about Buckner’s embracing-his-unavoidable-fate weathered aura: “Don’t try to run/ They’ll just take you down.” In the end, Our Blood is a solid album but, even with the conveyance of Buckner’s strength of character, might not be the best listen after a shitty day at the ranch.

Richard Buckner – Traitor by One Thirty BPM

 

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