Everywhere I Used To Be
Sad Canadian Country Songs That Will Not Just Touch Your Heart; But Squeeze it Until You Can’t Breathe
This is Canadian, Mariel Buckley’s second release; following on from 2018’s DRIVING IN THE DARK and arrived a bit too close to the date of release for my liking; as it’s meant I’ve probably not listened enough to always ‘get the message‘ in all of these songs.
But; reading her ‘Mission Statement’ (the last time I read a Mission Statement was from Kevin Rowland aka Dexy’s Midnight Runners in his cocaine years!) several songs have now made more sense than the first time I played them on Friday.
In my defence I don’t want to get too involved in Mariel’s backstory; especially her sexuality (Queer) but growing up as an ‘outsider’ in her hometown because of it; and finally throwing away the secrets that surround that part of her life and her associated mental health problems certainly inform her dark and acutely observed songs in a cathartic manner that will resonate with many people around the world.
So; what’s the music like you may well ask.
The first thing I noticed on opening song, Neon Blue is what a fabulous voice Mariel Buckley has. ‘A voice that has lived a life and certainly has stories to tell’ and this story with a very intense arrangement, involves the minutiae of being in a bar that’s not quite her favourite, but the one she’s most comfortable in now a relationship has ended ….. stubbing cigarettes out in plastic cups, two-stepping to the jukebox and having to go around the back because the toilets are out of use.
As that song ends I thought I had a handle on where the album was going; only to have my thoughts rinsed; as track #2, Whatever Helps You finds Mariel in full on Patsy Cline confessional mode; singinging to a pedal-steel and electro-drum sound; which is annoying and fascinating as you’d guess …. but a fabulous song it is.
Most of the rest of the tracks here are in a more traditional mode, with that haunting pedal-steel at the fore on the melancholic Driving Around where Mariel re-visits her old home with tarnished rose coloured glasses, Love Ain’t Enough is a slow and dark Heartbreaker Deluxe that will have (mostly women) thinking ‘that might be about me!’
The pedal-steel is never far from the forefront; but Mariel and producer Marcus Paquin throw plenty of curve balls as we progress through the toe-tapping Twangfest of Shooting At The Moon; the mournful Horse Named Nothing and album closer the Indie infused Let You Down that may be one of the finest modern break-up songs I’ve heard this year.
I know that there’s a lot more to discover in Mariel’s writing over the next few months; but at the moment I’ve already fallen in love with the Byrdsian title track Everywhere I Used To Be, which sounds like a song that may have been on Ashley McBryde’s debut album; only with a smokier and sultrier vocal.
The other; and my actual Favourite is the relatively simply constructed Going Nowhere; which written about a young ‘Queer’ woman who feels misunderstood in her small hometown; hit me straight in the solar plexus and left my gasping for breath the first time UI heard the opening verse ….
“I get bored
I talk shit
I getting tired of doing it
I get so damned frustrated
When things don’t go my way
I ‘m always starting fires
Just to walk away
I don’t know what to say.“
Who do you know that these words could have been about for most of his life? #RollsEyes
Although she’s won a couple of fairly impressive and lucrative songwriting contests; Mariel is fairly new to the worldwide Americana/Canadiana circus; but boy oh boy can she write a song that will not just touch your heart; but squeeze it until you can’t breathe …. but still leave you smiling while you gasp for breath.