Like Joe Pernice, Richard Buckner is a creative-writing grad turned songwriter with a penchant for dark, desperate tales of the half-broken. But where the Pernice Brothers have built lavish baroque-pop backdrops to cushion their despondent vibes, Buckner's folk-blues strum and downbeat arrangements rarely disguise painful lyrics delivered in a gruff baritone. This means the mood gets claustrophobic real quickly, and as a result, his albums haven't always received their proper due.
However, Buckner's move to the Merge imprint in 2004 improved his profile. Meadow, Buckner's latest, is his best since 2000's The Hill. The songs are bright and catchy, providing an appropriately sweet counterpoint to the singer-songwriter's bitter defeats. Some credit must be given to his crack studio band, which included guitarist Doug Gillard (Cobra Verde, Guided by Voices) and Mekons drummer Steve Goulding.
Buckner is touring for the first time backed by a full band: Kent instrumentalists Six Parts Seven, who will also be opening for Buckner with their own blend of melody and art-rock intricacy.