Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

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Richard Buckner: Window
Richard Buckner: Meadow (Merge/Rhythmethod)

In a fortnight during which I have heard exciting music of all persuasions -- from the London wideboy hip-hop of Jamie T to the orchestrations of Philip Glass (see below) -- this one is the real standout.

From swirling but moody pop-rock which recalls elevating 60s jangle and Joy Division simultaneously (the exciting opener Town) through driving Americana and on to deft acoustic work over which Buckner delivers his dark brown and commanding vocals, this is an album that sounds as good on the motorway as it does in your own home.

It is driving music, in every sense of the word. Widescreen but unusually intimate, Meadow has a forward momentum, and a sense of restless quest about it: in ways I cannot put my finger on specifically. Buckner has a voice which sounds lived in (the piano ballad Before which swells and retreats), and he calls on guitarist Doug Gillard and drummer Kevin March of Guided By Voices (who are restrained, tight but entirely supportive) among others to realise these sometimes moody lyrics but musically uplifting visions.

Somewhere in controlling that seeming dichotomy is Buckner's gift -- and this is an album that has travelled back and forth around the house and into the car since it first landed in my stereo. Loving it. 

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