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Richard Buckner

Devotion + Doubt – 1997 (MCA)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by Richard Buckner

Richard Buckner's remarkable second album may very well turn out to be theyear's best. This is a much more fully-realized record than "Bloomed," his fine debut album.

Producer J.D. Foster provides a richly subtle setting that complementsBuckner's intimate singing and imagistic lyrics which suggest more thanthey reveal. It's a spare, dream-like sound that evokes the vast, emptyspaces of the desert and plains. Buckner's vocal tone resembles Dwight Yoakam's, but Buckner generallysings much more softly, with his vocals sometimes barely rising above awhisper. The supporting cast includes ace Austin pickers Champ Hood andLloyd Maines, members of the rock band Giant Sand and avant-gardeguitarist Marc Ribot, with Maines in particular providing some lovelyatmospheric steel. Buckner avoids straightforward narrative, instead using elliptical imageryto evoke deep emotions in his songs of lost love and moving on. Hishaunted, mournful songs are rich in musical and lyrical detail, but amongthe most memorable would be the captivating opener "Pull," and thea capella "Fater."

"Devotion + Doubt" is a truly magical album from a visionary artistexploring the boundaries of country music.