A common reaction to the death of Jackie Leven this week was ”oh yeah. Sorta heard of him Always meant to give him a listen.” Richard Buckner’s career seems destined for the same result; he has spent a remarkable amount of time on the periphery of the music industry for a man so admired and respected by those who have met him or heard him.
He’s been labelled alt-country, folk, alt-rock, experimental…and you can hear elements of all that and more on his ninth and latest album, Our Blood. It is decidedly cohesive for all that; restrained, in turns lush and ghostly, with musical and lyrical themes that wind delightfully through the album to reward patient listeners.
Despite his lack of commericial success – his best selling album didn’t break the 30,000 mark – and a run of bad luck that delayed Our Blood for five years, he remains upbeat. There’s no bitterness in the man, and this is probably his most confidentally-sung album. He doesn’t push his voice, such a warm, lovely instrument at low volumes, as he sometimes has in the past.
There is fraility and bone-weary resignation in his writing – he puts music to prose – but also hope and joy, and it is each and all of these elements that make Our Blood one of the better records released this year regardless of genre. I’m not sure how to put this, but it feels absolutely like the perfect record for 2011.
But let’s let the man himself tell you about that. The video interview above was at the Nov. 12 Americana 10 music festival in Liverpool, where he needed no introduction.