Richard Buckner

Dents and Shells

Like so many others who steer their V-8s into the burned-out Brigadoon of altcountry, Richard Buckner has a hard-on for the classics: heartache, rotgut liquor, and bleak backdrops. Even though Buckner stays this course, his sixth studio effort does try, with some success, to avoid the comically rugged clichés that plague the genre. There's no shortage of enigmatic Dust Bowl gobbledygook ("I let up with the dents of a near-collision ...." What?), but Buckner's reedy boom (which makes him the white-boy Barry White of the faux-cowboy scene) often makes the jargon more than just palatable; it makes it lovely on the ears. Buckner's at his best when he chills with the impressionism and gives up a solid pop song, as is the case with the pristine opener, "A Chance Counsel," and the minimally titled "Her," both of which allow his newly minted band to stretch out with elegant touches of steel guitar and piano. But when he closes the record with the question, "Was there something that I made and never gave to you?," the answer is simple: yes, sense.

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