OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — For American musicians and songwriters, there’s long been a feeling that there is an eventual and inevitable slide toward traditionalist country and western music as you get older.
Dylan always had plenty of outlaw influence in his songs, but by the time he got to 2005’s “Modern Times,” he was shooting for a kind of full-on Western Swing. Springsteen has been one of the greatest leading lights of straight-up rock n’ roll forever, but much of his output since the 90s has been, at least, sprinkled with country fiddle and classical Western influence, and at most, jumping into the country sounds and cowboy boots with both feet. Even Bon Jovi’s recent offerings have fit much more comfortably on the country stations.
For practically any kid that finds his voice with four chords and a 4/4 beat, it’s hard not to grow up into a country singer.
Music and Film
with Brett Fieldcamp
There might be no better example of this transition in OKC right now than Tim Buchanan, former leader and mastermind of acclaimed rock/pop/noise collective Cherry Death, and driving force of the more heavily punk-influenced Glow God before that.
Since the dissolution of those acts, Buchanan began quickly and steadily finding his songs more and more at home within the acoustic folk space. His songs and solo performances had a comfortable earnestness and an organic, lived-in quality.
The final step into outright country music was natural, obvious, and just about perfect.
With his newest short-form release, “The Pourin’ Rain EP,” Buchanan sets his sights on the same level of acclaim in the country world that he saw in the indie rock scene just a few years ago. Backed by a shockingly capable band of friends and past rock collaborators as The Trumpet Vines, Buchanan’s songwriting is put on display here in the most pastoral and traditional ways.
All the expected hallmarks are here, the lumbering horseback rhythms, twanging honky-tonk guitar, and nostalgic, wistful fiddle lines (courtesy of local violin powerhouse Sarah Reid), but there’s no hint of irony and no winking cowboy role-play. These country stylings are presented with commitment and with sincerity. This is what these songs want to be, and they sound as if they fell out of the hands and fingers of the players as effortlessly as mindlessly picking a guitar in a rocking chair.
“It was important to me to have these recordings be with the live band members,” Buchanan told me, “because I really think something special happens with this group of people when we play together. When it’s good, the room’s energy changes in a real, remarkable way.”
That energy and ease is a tangible and infectious thing. There’s a sense of fun and a feeling of camaraderie in the sounds these musicians are creating together that belies what Buchanan calls something of a “downer” theme throughout.
“They’re all sort of downers on the surface maybe, but I think there’s a lot more than that read of them,” he said of the songs on this release. “All were relevant songs to me personally and to the band because of how alive they felt when we played them.”
I’m far from the first person to draw parallels between Buchanan and Neil Young, but it’s an apt comparison. Like the legendary Mr. Young, Buchanan is a prolific, irrepressible songwriter coming from a harder-rocking background and firing himself full-bore into folksy, traditionalist country music.
But also like Neil, Buchanan seems primed to jump back and forth at any moment, his inclinations toward the country and western side of songwriting feeling more like an appreciation and acknowledgement of the songs themselves at this point in time than like a straight-line evolution into a diehard country crooner.
“The Pourin’ Rain EP” is short and sweet, like seemingly all the best local releases lately, but if you need something to soundtrack an unseasonably warm winter evening with a beer on the back porch, it’s just about as long as a sunset, and just about as comforting and beautiful, too.
Tim Buchanan will release “The Pourin’ Rain EP” officially on streaming services January 21st, with the single “Heavy Eyes” dropping this Friday, the 14th.
Last Updated January 11, 2022, 6:49 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor