Enigmatic singer-songwriter Richard Buckner
has been highly acclaimed but chiefly a cult phenomenon since his 1994 debut, Bloomed
. Our Blood
is the first album from Buckner in five years, and the story behind its series of delays is as intriguing as it is unfortunate. Scoring a film that never came to pass? It happened. After that, Our Blood
recordings were lost due to faulty equipment and later a stolen laptop. Too add insult to injury, while recording at the wrong grange hall, Buckner was briefly questioned as a potential suspect in a murder case involving a torched car with a headless corpse.
Considering all the drama that led up to the oft-delayed release of Old Blood, it’s no wonder that Richard Buckner’s vocals are as world-weary as ever. This weariness with a weathered toughness underneath gives subtle character to the inscrutable wordsmith. At its core, Our Blood is a collection of folksy alt-country laments, but songs such as “Thief” and “Confession” incorporate sparse electronics to haunting effect. Curiously, it is on “Ponder”, a three-minute instrumental piece, that Our Blood is at its bleakest. On “Ponder”, the acoustic and electronic sides of Buckner interplay to reach new heights of heart-wrenching desolation.
Rooted in a blend of outlaw country, Americana, and folk, but venturing into experimental and avant garde pastures, Richard Buckner is the sort of singer-songwriter one would expect from Merge Records. This record may not be quite on the same level as his best country and experimental albums (1997′s Devotion & Doubt and 2002′s Impasse, respectively), but Old Blood offers a glimpse into the world of Richard Buckner that serves as an ideal starting point for new listeners.