Buck Meek Lives Up To His Own Critical Acclaim On Homespun ‘Two Saviors’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Big Thief has only been around for five years or so, but in that short time frontwoman, Adrianne Lenker has built the band into one of the most consistently astonishing groups playing today while simultaneously dividing her time between maintaining an almost equally great solo career. Her bandmate and ex-husband Buck Meek, often offers backing vocals and guitar to those Big Thief projects but expectedly, has consistently been outshined by Lenker. In that respect Meek’s first proper solo outing serves its purpose: after hearing the difference between Lenker’s solo material and Big Thief’s discography, Meek’s Two Saviors helps fill in the gaps.

As with many solo debuts, Meek keeps things casual, focusing on his songwriting, singing, and guitar work instead of broader album theatrics. The sound is homespun, with a breezy pace that evokes the charm of a demo reel without sacrificing quality production and song structure. This is best exemplified by “Two Moons (morning)” a thrown together late-album follow up to an earlier track, “Two Moons” proper. This fun and country-tinged romp comes with musician chatter and a more light-hearted arrangement that, along with Meek’s delivery evokes an entirely different mood. 

While Meek uses this album as a showcase for his personality and musical prowess, he’s not afraid to draw lineage to his work with Big Thief. “Candle” co-written by Lenker, could easily have appeared as an outtake from either one of the group’s last two albums and features easily the most memorable chorus on Two Saviors. But while “Candle” works as a great example of what a Meek fronted-Big Thief could sound like, “Pareidolia” is front-loaded to typify the ideal Meek country-tinged solo album-sound. Lighter and more optimistic than most Big Thief songs, “Pareidolia” flexes Meek’s unique inflection and evocative songwriting, to mark the strongest entry on the album and the distinction between Meek and his home band.

A member of one of the most critically acclaimed groups of the twenty-first century, Buck Meek may not have needed his album to live up to the highs of Adrianne Lenker’s Songs and Instrumentals but Meek did need to define himself as more than just a hired hand on those Big Thief projects. Two Saviors works as a proper introduction to a musician who has been toiling away behind the scenes of a truly great band, but also as a completely independent opening statement from a talented artist in his own right. It’s likely that Meek’s solo material will never be evaluated separately from his work with Big Thief, but on Two Saviors Meek, at the very least, proves that it should.

Photo by Robbie Jeffers

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