I first learned about Richard Buckner in the late nineties. I’d joined the Pavement listserv and when we weren’t arguing over which Pavement album was the worst (people hated BtC) we’d talk about all sorts of artists popular at the time among the indie crowd. Richard Buckner was one of the names that got mentioned often, so I bought a copy of Devotion + Doubt. I fell in love with it immediately.
I hadn’t listened to it for quite some time, having checked out of alt-country or whatever that was all those years ago. Then I read about Buckner’s struggles. and I revisited his work.
Devotion + Doubt is still a breathtaking album. Buckner deserves the attention that’s been lavished on Bon Iver. I can think of few albums that do so much with so little. The sparse arrangements leave ample room for Buckner’s expressive voice. The storytelling is great and he never lapses into the singer-songwriter treacle that dooms so many solo artists. It’s just the right mix of sentimentality and scorn.
If you haven’t heard Buckner before, check out this live video of Ed’s Song from Devotion + Doubt.