The Poem and the Rose
Americana Perfect For a Last Waltz.
It seems a lifetime since I reviewed Buford Pope’s album Too Young To Be Old in 2011 and then Sticks In The Throat; in 2014; so it was with more than a modicum of excitement that I unwrapped this disc in Christmas week 2015.
Buford Pope, aka Mikael Liljeborg hails from the Cajun Quarter of Sweden; or the tiny island of Gotland to be precise; but couldn’t sound more authentic if he sported a Stetson, chaps and smoked Marlboro full strength.
I always start my reviews with the opening song; because this is where new fans have to begin and I like to describe it in that manner. WOWEE!
The title track; The Poem & The Rose opens with some mighty fine pedal steel; and when Buford’s sweet, distinctive voice glides in my stomach fluttered and I had to take a deep breath. Talk about starting at the top! I guess this is still Alt. Country; because ‘Country’ seems to be Rock to the Max, these days but this song is 100% Country music of the finest hue; with a delicious Pure Prairie League meets Vince Gill feel to it.
The next half dozen songs or so; are all Country love songs full of such melancholia that I can only compare them to what I heard on the Band’s first two albums. Trust me; I don’t use that comparison lightly at all.
On My Heart Don’t Lie and At The End of The Week; Buford sounds uncannily like a young Levon Helm; and it got me to thinking why no one else has used the forefathers of Americana as a model, before now.
Things eventually pick up on the almost Appalachian sounding I Light Up a Candle; which, not for the first time, features some beautiful fiddle playing by Filip Runesson; complimenting Peter Anderson’s exquisite pedal-steel playing.
While that opening track is absolutely spellbinding; Pope closes the album with two scorchers – Young Girl is ‘back porch Country’ par excellence; with the young singers voice soaring like an eagle as the piano-accordion swings like a pendulum on amphetamines!
But the album closer, If Ties Don’t Bind is a case of ‘keeping the best to last.’ Slow and atmospheric; plus full of angelic harmonies; If Ties Don’t Bind yet again harks back to memories of sitting in my bedroom listening to The Band and their ilk in the early 1970’s and conjuring up images to go along with their magical descriptions; in exactly the same way I’ve dome with this song and album.
Released November 2015