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Richard Buckner

 

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broken up with a boyfriend, went home and smashed every glass in her kitchen.

Why? It's not just that Buckner's lyrics alternate heartbreak with defiant resilience — "Never tell them where it hurts" and "On nights like this, my hope returns," he sings in "Song of 27," from his second album, Devotion + Doubt (1997). It's not just the way he glances at a fragile moment, saying just enough, as in his first album's "Daisychain," when he realizes his jealous paranoia isn't paranoia: "I called you once in a fit / And your roommate slipped / She said you weren't coming back / From your day trip."

Buckner's oblique lyrics; his low, throaty voice; his restrained, tumbleweedy alt-country guitar sound; and his songs' structure create a pent-up feeling of dignity fighting inner turmoil. His best songs seem unfinished, as if he's close to a breakthrough — if only the song went on for one more verse. I'm always peering through his lyrics' dark glass, hoping for a clear view if I listen again.

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