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One of the perks of this job is seeing a release come in by a favourite artist and being given (or to be honest asking for) the opportunity to write about it. Richard Buckner was initially brought to my attention years ago by my father who leant me his ‘Devotion and Doubt’ album; it’s fair to say that on the first few listens it did nothing for me, standard singer songwriter fare, and I was about to give it back to him when on one final play it suddenly clicked and from then I’ve been a fan.
All that waffle brings me to his new album which is a damn sight better than his previous effort ‘Our Blood’ which rather passed over my head somewhat, surprising as there is usually something to enjoy in everything he does. I’d describe him as a sort of lopsided singer songwriter, he has a quivering country-ish voice which seems rather traditional at first but you soon grow to love it. For comparisons I’d say head to Bonnie Prince Billy, go straight on to Townes Van Zandt, turn left and you are in the general ballpark. Although there is certainly a very traditional alt-country rootsy element to his music, he has an experimental almost avant garde attitude to song structure which keep his albums lively and interesting.
I’m pleased to say that this record is a return to the top notch work he produced in the mid-2000s with ‘Impasse’ and ‘Since’ (which featured John McEntire and David Grubbs). It’s generally drum-less, built around sometimes picked, sometimes aggressively strummed acoustic guitars, using all manner of mellotrons and organs to provide a warm backing. The chord changes and vocal melodies are generally top notch and so distinctive of his work. A real return to form from an excellent artist who should be a hell of a lot more popular than he is.
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