Delusions of Banjer

Bad Livers outgrow their "thrash/bluegrass" label; the countrified timbre of Richard Buckner

Apparently so. On Bloomed, his debut album, Buckner casts aside both the Doubters, his backup band, and any doubts about his sincerity. Sparsely accompanied, he has no place to hide, nor does he seek one. Bloomed is unabashedly emotional, knee-deep in melancholy and rife with sweet-and-sour remembrances of a tenacious romantic past. Relationships, generally ill-fated ones, are Buckner's subject of choice -- if he's not walking away from one unlucky pairing, he's walking into another. A tad monochromatic, maybe, but smart. While Buckner's blessed with a convincingly countrified timbre, he doesn't have the backwoods pedigree to effectively evoke rurality. As long as he draws from the universal language of heartache, he won't embarrass himself trying.

Interestingly, Buckner downplays the country influence in his bio, which, in a way, makes sense. "The guy who says he's the most genuine is the one who probably isn't," Rubin surmises. And, Buckner might add, vice versa.

Bad Livers, Richard Buckner and Cindy Lee Berryhill play Wed, April 26, at the Great American Music Hall in S.F.; call 885-0750.

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