Wes Buckley’s The Towering Ground is a showcase of the North Adams, MA artist’s brilliant song craft and versatility.
Released last week on Half a Million Records, the label branch of the famed Belltower Records store, this album finds Buckley inhabiting dusty folk stylings and playing catchy rural melodies on acoustic guitar.
The songs, which feature the backing of mandolin, keyboards and slide guitar, all have a great timeless quality. Most of them have the simple construction and sing-around-the-campfire charm of classic folk tunes, and yet, they also feel undeniably current (especially the lyrics).
Comparisons to the likes of Arlo Guthrie, David Bromberg and John Hartford are valid, yet there’s a strain of psychedelic consciousness and esoterica that flows through some of the tracks, like the haunting blues of “Out Below The Field” and the spacey “We Take Our Share,” that helps to set this record apart from its influences. It’s these more far-reaching tracks where Buckley feels the most free and perhaps the most visible. It’s like the more abstract he goes, the more of his soul comes through the music.
Perhaps the best example of this is the heady “Antimatters.” With shimmering reverb-treated guitars and a heavy reliance on tone rather than form, this track aches like a long-ruminated internal monologue with surreal lyrics and a hazy atmosphere. It’s like a mix of Mark Mulcahy’s poeticism and Michael Hurley’s dreamy folk rock, but it still feels entirely too personal to be anything other than Buckley’s own creation.
Playful, charismatic and just a bit mysterious, The Towering Ground is a record that you won’t soon forget. Pick up your copy from Half a Million today.