I first discovered Richard Buckner as Son Volt’s opener around the time of Straightaways. Standing alone with a keyboard on a big, dark stage, Buckner seemed perhaps the only person capable of out-bleaking that era’s Farrar, and while the performance was undeniably affecting, it was an ash-stiff whiskey or hostile-strong coffee-grade acquired taste. Some miles later, Buckner’s dark night of the soul seems to have gotten more accessible.
There’s brooding beauty stirring through Our Blood, but it drawls by light on melodrama. Songs like “Escape” and “Confession” capture Buckner in great voice, an earthy warble that matter-of-factly packages complex emotions in evenly measured phrases. In the wake of the long string of indie rock miserabilists that have come and gone since he first released Bloomed, Buckner’s latter day understatement is refreshing in its candor and simplicity. While the album at times requires careful attention to fully attach to, it’s modestly flavored with a warmth and ease that naturally rings true.