Blue Eyed Boy
#Buford Pope’s 2015 release The Poem and the Rose was a big hit at RMHQ and when our latest Guest Reviewer Tony Pearce saw BLUE EYED BOY on the ‘to do’ pile he asked to take it to our secret hideaway in the Mediterranean where he could give it the time to listen that it deserves.
Here’s his words………….
Blue Eyed Boy is the seventh album by Buford Pope. Feel you should have heard of him? Well don’t feel too bad. Buford a.k.a Mikael Liljeborg is a 46yr old from Sweden. Not even mainland Sweden, by the way but a little island in the Baltic Sea called Gotland. There must be something about the air over there; as I’ve been listening to another Swedish resident, The Country Side of Harmonica Sam who harken successfully back to a Honky Tonk style from the ‘50’s. I missed catching them at The Nashville Palace by a couple of days recently; but they tore the place up apparently.
His bio will tell you that he discovered Dylan at an early age (15) and went on to discover Neil Young, Jackson Brown, Springsteen etc. while developing a high-pitched singing voice.
Still Got Dreams opens the album and straight away sets the tone. There’s a lot talked about New Country which doesn’t always sound like country, this does. It’s not your Granddad’s Yee-Haw Country either. This is a glorious mix of pedal steel, accordion, mandolin and country guitar……and ‘that’ voice.
No Man’s Land is medium paced echoing one of his influences, Neil Young; and it’s Mr Young that his voice reminds you of most often. Not enough that you could accuse him of copying, just every now and again you catch yourself thinking ‘who does he remind me of’? It’s a song of struggle and pain but never doomy.
Infirmary is a ballad with some clever lines “…so I could look at the moon/I want to leave/but death seems to miss this room”.
Freewheelin’ feels like a natural single, Up tempo with an instantly hummable chorus, it’s a song about finding some kind of release in drinking. This has been on repeat for the last couple of days. In fact, considering some of the songs began life up to 10 years ago, they all run one into the next without any obvious clunkers.
Occasionally you detect a bit of Mr Zimmerman in the vocals too, but like the earlier comparison certainly not enough to distract you.
Hard Land is pure blue-collar Springsteen albeit with a more Band-style instrumentation than a full-on Boss rocker, as Pope fills out the sound with banjo and mandolin. It’s easy to see how his version of Americana has spread across Europe and into England.
Bloodline has more echoes of The Band. More in accompaniment and melody rather than a direct copy of their songs. Given that there’s not too many people capable of carrying that off these days, I can easily put up with the odd track like that.
The Baltic Sea is in a similar vein to Freewheelin’ in that he knows how to build a catchy chorus off the back of a melody you will want to hear again. Once he gets to touring the UK and possibly USA, the name of Buford Pope won’t make you think of an Appalachian farm boy.
RMHQ Guest Reviewer Tony Pearce.
Released 22nd September 2017.