Writing about Canadian music means constant surprises in the form of artists who we should have known previously, but didn’t. Alberta-based T. Buckley is one such musician who I wish I’d heard of earlier so I could have been singing his praises sooner. Thankfully we received a request several weeks ago to premiere his single, “Half a Heart” (which you can hear here) and with it, an advance stream of his new album, “Miles We Put Behind,” which drops this Friday.
For this project, Buckley teamed with Montréal-based producer Howard Bilerman and several Montréal musicians, including Plants and Animals’ Matthew Woodley, to build on his previous work and to expand his musical horizons. With this collection of songs, he’s done that beautifully – a compelling folk/roots album that also contains traces of blues, rock, and even electronica.
The aforementioned single, “Half a Heart,” is a great example of the ways in which Buckley is exploring new ground while still remaining true to his roots. Cowritten with John Wort Hannam (who we featured yesterday), this is a straight-out rocker that delves into love’s depths. In contrast, Buckley goes minimalist with “Least a Man Could Do,” a slow-tempo bluesy tune that highlights his expressive voice and lyrics but has a unique musical texture in support, combining keyboards, pedal steel, and a bit of electronica beats. Think that combo won’t work in roots music? Listen to the track and think again, because it does, wonderfully well.
“Long Highway” is another highlight on the album – another rocker of a tune that allows Buckley to show off his rock chops. (A wonderfully versatile singer, is T. Buckley.) Don’t miss the terrific bass line from Josh Toal on this track, as well. The title track eloquently tells the story of someone who just can’t settle for their present moment, but is always looking – and moving – to the next new thing in persistent hope that it will be the ‘right’ thing.
As excellent as the whole project is, Buckley (in my opinion) saves the best for last – “Blindsided” is that rarity in pop music, a love song that is both unabashed and unpretentious, as genuine as it is lovely. (It also closes the album with a pretty wonderful extended instrumental outro as well.)
Once I finish listening to this album – which may be a while yet, as I’m still discovering new facets – I look forward to exploring T. Buckley’s previous work. This Friday is bringing a number of terrific new releases, but be sure to keep this one at the forefront of your listening.