Buck Meek - Buck Meek - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Buck Meek - Buck Meek

by Mark Moody Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-18
Buck Meek - Buck Meek
Buck Meek - Buck Meek

Big Thief’s lead guitarist, Buck Meek, steps out on his band for a slow waltz turn around the sawdust covered dance halls of his Texas youth.  His self-titled debut LP is littered with racing cars, jumping off bridges, getting girls pregnant and over a dozen specifically named characters.  Laconic to the point of barely moving in spots, Meek and the denizens of his songs have him coming across like Bruce Springsteen’s slow talking Southern nephew.  Where Springsteen thunderously burst forth racing in the streets of his native Asbury Park, Meek struggles to get grandma’s Cadillac back on the farm to market highway of his Wimberley, Texas home town. 

Though Meek and long time musical partner Adrianne Lenker had a few joint collaborations prior to Big Thief and Meek released an earlier EP, the self-titled Buck Meek shows his own style peeking through.  Clocking in at less than twenty-five minutes, with a few songs really just sketches, the album is brief but covers quite a bit of ground.  In the more energetic or melodic spots, ‘Joe By the Book’ and ‘Cannonball!’, Meek’s Hill Country tales evoke Mark Olson’s high desert openness before the latter wandered too far off the garden path.  While on the most languid country lopes, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Best Friend’, the nearly forgotten Chicago band Souled American comes to mind.  ‘Ruby’ specifically has the “threatening to stop” dynamic tension of Souled American’s cover of Little Feat’s ‘Six Feet of Snow’.

The album starts with what sounds like a mid-sentence monologue on ‘Joe by the Book’ as Meek recalls a good natured mechanic at the local Shamrock station.  His sing-song warble is met sympathetically by the core band assembled here -  Adam Brisban (guitar); Mt. Davidson (bass); Austin Vaughn (drums); and an assortment of other musicians on specific tracks.  The band sizzles the most on the single ‘Cannonball!’ with Brisbin taking a fat solo while Meek brags of his ’84 beating out a 2010 even though his girl Sue went ahead and “flew the coop and left me.”  Self-reflectively not totally full of himself but the song’s momentum does hold a bit of cornpone braggadocio.  On ‘Ruby’, Meek stumbles around trying to guess a certain girl’s name on a song flecked with Harper Lee sounding characters, finally and assuredly declaring her to be simply Eleanor.  

The barely there ‘Flight 9525’ and ‘Exit 7 Roses’ make a scant album seem that much shorter and the former disrupts the flow a bit.  ‘Maybe’ has a few more slo-mo sparks to it, while the jazz inflected ‘Swan Dive’ has some Steely Dan keyboard flavoring.  The final act tear-jerker ‘Fool Me’ comes off as a long lost Doug Sahm cover though it appears to be an original and a fine one at that.  

I’ve spent many hours driving down Texas Hill Country back roads listening to Meek’s Lone Star forebears with the windows down.  I didn't have a pick-up truck or a gun rack, but you might have even been allowed to steer with one hand and have a few Shiner Bock’s back then.  You could have even seen the coyote of the cover chasing a rainbow as the sun set or his unlucky cousin hanging from a rancher's barbed wire fence.  A gentle reminisce of an album for sure, Meek almost outdoes his touchpoints in terms of sepia toned nostalgia and that’s a pretty cool trick many decades on.  There may be a niche appeal for this kind of regionally shaded charm, but for those of us it caters to Meek hit the rusty nail on the head.  Hope there is more water to dip from this well.                 

Comments (2)

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Well put, Mark. Meek opened for Waxahatchee here in Chicago, and was entrancing. Humble and reserved, yet engaged with the crowd, his unique style of guitar playing perfectly compliments his voice. it is a lovely listen!

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Thanks Jim. I just saw Waxahatchee (again) this weekend. Finding a diamond in the rough like this Meek album is a real treat too.

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