In the world of music writing, you’re pressed to keep things new and fresh, constantly focusing on new music and scooping any rivals that do the same thing. It’s a grind, though one we wouldn’t trade for anything. Every once and a while, we take a record and just say “this is too great for us not to cover,” and the latest is the solo album from Buck Meek. Yes, he’s the guitarist for Big Thief, though as great as that is it doesn’t need to get mentioned again. His solo album Buck Meek dropped last year, but we weren’t around when it came out, so we’re rectifying that here. What the album isn’t is an homage to other work he’s done with bands he’s in or was in. What it is would be a beautiful coupling of minimalist guitar and Texas twang that’s closest contemporary would be Townes Van Zandt, who’s been gone for way too long.
There’s something engaging about how Meek lays out a track. At times, like the opener “Joe by the Book,” he pulls back, let’s the guitar sit in the background while still being present. It’s a difficult trait for a guitarist to not let the guitar do the talking for them, though Meek does so with ease throughout the record. On “Ruby” the guitar is there, but the mix allows Meek’s voice to be more present while the guitar is closer to a secondary vehicle. With “Sue” the guitar hops on and off the song, but it’s still in many ways driving the structuring, something that works well for Meek’s style.
At other times, Meek employs pop structures without making a pop song. “Cannonball!” is the best example of that. The catchy song sounds like it was written in a sleepy Texas town while the progressions display Meek’s guitar prowess, interspersing hooks and a melody like it’s bound for major market radio. “Exit 7 Roses” is short and sweet, but again it has enough of a hook to hold your attention, while “Maybe” brings that pop pacing on in full stride, only made more engaging by Meek’s occasional falsetto vocals.
The album could have been anything, possibly something that falls in the more traditional realms of the modern music world. But it doesn’t, and that’s what makes it so hard to shake. Buck Meek takes his twangy vocals, his guitar skills and hints of storyteller melodies and crafts a record that doesn’t sound like anyone else today while not being polarizing or strange to the senses.
You can stream Buck Meek on all streaming sites, you can purchase it in digital shops including on Bandcamp, or you can purchase physical versions from Keeled Scales. Buck Meek is on tour starting February 20 at Joe Squared in Baltimore until April 06 in Boston at Berklee Performance Center. A complete listing of his upcoming tour dates can be found here.
Image Credits: Photo by Adrianne Lenker.