Richard Buckner‘s new album Surrounded tells a heartbreaking tale of loving and longing through sultry lyrics and harmonious hooks.
Surrounded experiments with the relationship between acoustic riffs and electronic beats, and while with some tracks this relationship works well, some turn out as well as Buckner’s so-told love life.“Surrounded” opens the album with an acoustic tune featuring repetitive catchy riffs and simplistic drawn out lyrics. Buckner’s signature gritty soft-spoken voice complements this simple track.
It then jumps into “When You Tell Me How It Is,” one of the album’s songs incorporating electronic sounds. The first 45 seconds of the song feature a dark, fast and repetitive beat before suddenly jumping into an upbeat folk tango. While the two seem like an unlikely duo, the combination seems to work somehow, just not in the context of this album.
The next two songs lay the framework for the album as they carry the same mold of melodic acoustic riffs juxtaposed with sorrowful lyrics. While the combination doesn’t mesh as well in “When You Tell Me How It Is,” “Portrait” is the perfect marriage of the two. The song features an ominous drawn-out synth — a reflection of the mournful lyrics — with Buckner’s characteristic acoustic melody.
The rest of the album tries to follow suit with the same arrangement of opposing sounds yet falls short of making the two styles fit well together. “Cut” is a bizarre combination of Latin and trance beats that seem at a war with each other, yet neither wins. Perhaps the best song of the album is left for last. “Lean To,” although lengthy, embodies the spirit of a brokenhearted folk song with its melodic guitar-picking and wistful singing.
Surrounded sounds like a trial-and-error of two conflicting sounds, uncharacteristic of any folk album, unfortunately the album’s few songs that do work well aren’t enough to do it justice.
— Marcela Guimaraes
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