With each subsequent release, Richard Buckner further solidifies his place in the pantheon of the great American songwriters, whether you’ve heard of him or not. While he’s been releasing alt-country and folk gems for 20 years, it feels like a recent occurrance that his legend and cult songwriter status has grown and blossomed. After a tumultuous recording process resulting in the extremely barebones album Our Blood in 2011, Buckner returned this year with the formidible Surrounded which features varied instrumentation, drones & layering, and harmonization. Lyrically, Surrounded is Buckner’s most ambitious undertaking, presenting the listener with different points of view and understanding about what he’s singing. The liner notes reveal his text-embedded lyrical technique, drawing from one continuous prose text (a technique he previously used for Since and Impasse), but this time around, he uses the method to dictate the album on a larger scale – the point of view, the scope, and the sequencing. Furthermore, the liner notes display additional unsung lyrics that adds and potentially changes the meaning of what you just heard. Definitely a grand undertaking for one man.
Richard Buckner, alone with an acoustic guitar through a small amp, performed songs from Surrounded for Folkadelphia before his show at the World Cafe Live on September 14th.