Review: Bud Buckley “In Denial”

Bud Buckley “In Denial”

28 Sep, 2011 Matt Warnock

In Denial, a four-song EP with two additional bonus tracks, is the latest release from singer-songwriter Bud Buckley.  Drawing influences from the likes of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, Buckley lets his influences breathe through his music while he steers each track into new directions by injecting his own personal touches as well as those of the world-class musicians that he has assembled together for this engaging project.

Kicking off the EP with the dark, bluesy rocker “Had to Pretend,” Buckley showcases his emotional side, as well as brings to light the strong guitar work of Steve Siktberg.  The combination of growling guitar tone, low vocals and the bass and drums locking in together produces a song that is both dark and moody, but that will get toes tapping and heads bobbing at the same time.  There is also some very fine organ work by Ross Rice, who duals with Siktberg in the song’s middle section, driving the energy and raising the band’s interaction and creativity to the next level of intensity.

Moving into more of a rock feel, complete with acoustic guitar and a softer guitar tone on the lead lines, Buckley lightens the mood with the second track “I Need.”  Though there are some harmonic and melodic moments that return to the darker tone of the first track, the overall vibe is lighter, shining a light on another side of the songwriter’s artistic output.  By using emotional contrast between the tracks, not just here but in others on the album as well, Buckley is thinking of the larger picture, being concerned with the overall programming of the album and not just the individual tracks.  This is one of the reasons that this album is so successful and why it feels for like a cohesive musical output rather than just a collection of individual tracks.

The third song, “It’s Been Fun,” has a bit of a Paul Simon, after Simon and Garfunkel, vibe to it, at least in the vocals and the chorus harmony.  Again, this track showcases the diverse background of Buckley’s influences from which the singer draws in his writing and performance.  The EP concludes with a slower track that is permeated with a cymbal groove that keeps the time moving forward.  Going with a cleaner sound, the guitars law down an harmonic pad that Buckley floats his lyrics over as he takes the listener through each verse and chorus throughout the length of the track.

Though the EP ends here, there are two bonus tracks that have been included in this release, “A Way” and “Keeping Secrets.”  The first is an acoustic based track that features some very haunting guitar work and a lovely bassline that really pulls the track together, lifting it to become one of the best on the release.  The latter is based on a driving rhythm that will bring to mind Bob Dylan’s early electric work, in both the music and vocals.  Both songs are welcome additions to the EP and fit right in with the overall mood of the release, as opposed to being tacked on as an afterthought.

Overall, In Denial is a strong album full of well-written songs performed at the highest level.  Though some of the moods tend to be similar, there is enough diversity to keep things interesting and move the music along from one track to the next.  With such a creative and engaging EP on the shelves, listeners are left waiting for Buckley’s next full-length release to hit the airwaves and store shelves worldwide.

Review by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)