Richard Buckner Meadow

Mixing dusty rockers with mid-tempo folk pop, Richard Buckner leads an all-star band through another reliable collection of melancholy music. Joined by Guided By Voices alums like Doug Gillard and Kevin March, Buckner uses a versatile group of musicians to execute his varied visions. The buoyant beats and melodies of songs like "Canyon,” and "Spell” are tempered by Buckner’s rich, earnest voice, an instrument that could make a tearjerker out of "Happy Birthday.” The edgy, driving tone of a song like "Town” recalls a good Springsteen rocker, with Buckner’s delivery and imagery infused with more guts and urgency than usual. "Lucky” conjures up another Bruce in Hornsby, with the band even sounding like the Range for good measure. A sparse folk song like "Mile” possesses a nice ambience behind Buckner’s emotional vocal, while "Before” shoots for crossover appeal. Beyond tempos, Meadow is an up and down record but Buckner’s passion is a prevailing force as usual. (Merge)