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splendid > reviews > 11/8/2004
Richard Buckner
Richard Buckner
Dents and Shells
Merge


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Fuse"

Buy me now
We've learned to pretty much take Richard Buckner for granted. That sounds totally ridiculous, but there's a good reason: it's because he's so damned consistent. He's the aural equivalent of a comfortable pair of slippers or that trusty pickup that never breaks down: a troubadour who's always ready with a fresh batch of songs. Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on how it's taken -- Dents and Shells continues in this unflagging tradition. The stripped down set is pleasant and leisurely, never forsaking beefy guitars for smartly-sung choruses or quirky lyrics that sound as if they were written on cigarette packs and bar napkins. Far more mysterious and (perhaps not coincidentally) alluring than most Buckner outings, Dents and Shells is a claustrophobic comedown album wrapped in disillusion and sorrow. The glints of southern gothic that drip from "A Chance Counsel" are eerily reminiscent of sometime-labelmate Will Oldham, as is the husky tone Buckner adopts when delivering the song's verses. His nomadic tendencies have roughed his songwriting into impeccable shapes, his dusky arrangements providing ample space in which he can wax sheepishly philosophical on love, loss and life.


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