It’s 5am on a Sunday and I’m at a medication crossroads. These pills to go up, these ones to come down and a balancer in between to steady the ship. Spring is threatening through the window, but the winter hangover is still present. I’m sat questioning my existence in a whirl of cigarette smoke. Luckily, I’ve found Buckley, or maybe Buckley has found me.
Las Cruces was written on the road in a Subaru during Buckley’s last solo album tour. “I let you down” is proclaimed on the opening Bakersfield before a building guitar solo outro takes the laid back to the laid bare. The feel for the record is then rubber stamped with the lush vocal harmonies that echo in the Neil Young inspired Old Glory.
Proceedings turn acoustic with Devil Slide and Conseula. The latter may be brighter, but the former is dusty and darker with a subtle glimmer of hope via a lap steel.
Like the title track before it, Three Chiefs has a more uptempo, rockier riff akin to Wilco with an Americana chorus that howls at a vast open landscape. Buckley still has hang-ups though; “guilty of my past, guilty of myself.” With a Southern California rock twist on Downtown, it’s on to the sound of the urban talking over the rural on Clawson Hill.
As seven minute closer Perfect Storm leaves in a haze of the sun melting the tarmac, we’re ultimately heading towards an empty rocking chair swinging on an open porch. Here, we have more time to reflect and to “try and make sense of this I made.”
Las Cruces doesn’t speak of where I come from, but it does speak to me. It’s an album that couldn’t have been written on a UK motorway or a B-road travelling to the next show. It’s the sound of a different place, but a place that’s worth visiting, even if only through the passages of your mind. Las Cruces is a well-executed album for thinkers, questioners and lovers of laid back rock ‘n’ roll. Ginge Knievil
Check out Buckley here