The backstory on Our Blood is both fascinating and grisly. Richard's treasured tape machine bit the dust, his apartment was burgled, and, I kid you not, a headless corpse was found in one of his burned out trucks. The girl, for those who have followed the story, left several albums back, and I don't know if the dog died.
At any rate, "I guess I'm the one they warned you about," he sings on "Confession," and the lyrics take on a chilling weight given the pre-recording history. The basic ingredients here -- strummed acoustic guitars, lap steel, gently brushed drums, the occasional wash of strings -- belie the intensity of the songs. This is a man who has lived through hell, and who wants to tell you about it, albeit in startling metaphors and evocative poetry. Opener "Traitor" finds Buckner doing what he does best, wrapping that supremely ragged, soulful voice around a tale of relational disintegration, of the center not holding, yet again:
You woke up too late, but know what they thought
While you were waiting for the strangers that had gone
Somewhere to stay together apart,
Where everyone traded as they faded in the dark,
Caught in the lights they couldn't show through
And just beyond they'd always know you
Would give it away, even as dust
Falling just out of frame, leaving everything untouched
Buckner threw away a big-label contract to record a batch of songs based on Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology, and his best-selling album (Devotion + Doubt) sold a whopping 27,000 units, and was recorded fifteen years ago. He's probably given up the big dream long ago, and he just keeps on recording one stellar album after another. He'll be coming to a dingy dive near you soon. If you get the chance, you should see him.