Eleanor Buckland: You Don’t Have to Know
Eleanor Buckland You Dont Have To Know.jpeg

Eleanor Buckland – You don't have to know that

Sonorous music – October 29, 2021

In the summer of 2018, I witnessed a fabulous festival hosted by Lula Wiles, a female folk roots trio that had grown together in Boston four years earlier. The three women – Isa Burke, Mali Obomsawin and Eleanor Buckland – demonstrated masterful musicality and lively social awareness both lyrically and in their stage banter. Given the latter aspect of Lula Wiles ‘personality, it was no shock that they signed to Smithsonian Folkways after their independently released 2016 debut of the same name, the historic home of legendary folk music champions like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, of course. The non-profit group has released two Lula Wiles albums so far, most recently the politically charged Shame and Sedition from earlier this year. Complemented by drummer Sean Trischka, there was a clear shift in their sound, away from pure folk and towards atmospheric, muscular roots pop. Buckland also emerges from Lula Wiles for her solo debut and breaks new ground in sound and also overrides the political instead of uniquely personal issues You don't have to know.

Somewhere in the bracket between indie rock and folk pop – consider Kathleen Edwards as a stylistic starting point – this 10-track collection could be said to have come about by chance, over time rather than design. Buckland wrote songs, but without a specific goal in mind for them. It was her friend and Berklee College of Music alum, Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist Adam Iredale-Gray (Aerialists / Fish & Bird) who coaxed the album from Buckland, both unsure whether their work would be an EP, a full -Length project and whether to consider it a Buckland solo venture or a duo release. Although Iredale-Gray co-wrote eight of the ten tracks, he finally realized that You Don't Have to Know had to go out into the world under Buckland's name. As for the personal openness of the lyric content, it was a wise but obvious choice.

The album title alone is an indication of the intimacy of the subjects that Buckland ponders over during his 40 minutes. It is her reconciled conclusion to many questions that arise from the uncertainties of her life, but most of all how do I do this, what do I want and how can I find out …? Buckland looked inwardly to create these songs and poured her heart out to deal with times of anxiety and depression, overwhelming feelings of helplessness, and the myriad complexities of relationships.

What's up: Show of hands, Rachel Newton, Eliza & Martin Carthy, Kathryn Williams, Keywest

To bring Buckland's songs to life, Iredale-Gray used his extensive network of Canadian talent to collaborate across borders with Maine-born and raised Buckland. His two core aerialists, Elise Boeur and (the only non-canuck) Màiri ChaimbeulBoth contribute to this, the former with harmony singing and the latter, although he is considered one of the world's best Celtic harpists, plays all kinds of keyboards here. Depending on their location and availability, the Aerialists' rhythm section is fluid (including Trischka on occasion), and it's the Toronto portrayal of the drummer Justin Ruppel (Suzie Ungerleider / Jadea Kelly) and bassist Charles James (King Creosote / Jim Cuddy) form the backbone here. The increasingly visible guitarist / producer Sam Gleason (Charlotte Cornfield / Dana Gavanski / The Hidden Cameras) brings in his six-string skills, while Omhouse bandleader / session multi-instrumentalist, Steven foster (Harmony singing), saxophonist Edwin Sheard, and prolific session flutist Anh Phung (Twisted Pine / Harebrain) round off an impressively melodious squad. Finally, Iredale-Gray, who worked at Lula Wiles & # 39; Has produced and played debut guitar, also adds harmony singing and programming.

You Don’t Have to Know opens powerfully with the first single Don’t Look Down. It was written on Mayne Island, BC, a green 8.1 square mile point on the southern Gulf Islands, and the west coast location for one of Iredale-Gray's two Fiddlehead Studios (the other in Toronto). Buckland is full of worries – I thought I left my worries in the east / But I find her crouching behind me, the shadow of a beast – but she and Iredale-Gray put fear against a contagious pop melody with a surging beat and sounding guitars . As strange as it sounds, I remember – more melodically than vocally – the late Nanci Griffith, but as if supported by U2. The same goes for the driving second single Static, another up-tempo speed camera that is completely incompatible with its title!

I've always enjoyed this happy-sad juxtaposition as presented in the opener, and it's an approach that works consistently well with You Don't Have to Know. In keeping with Buckland's sincere soul searching and wavering self-doubt, however, as might be expected (or hoped for), the more thoughtful ballad-like material dominates. This is the style of October and the beautiful Wishing is Useless heavy-hearted stunner, the latter being the sparse in this collection made of lavishly produced material.

As the slowly burning centerpiece and at 5:22 the longest track on the album, however, it is the truly epic resignation that steals the show. Magnificent and dreamlike, dominated by Chaimbeul's sparkling keyboards and Iredale-Gray's electric guitars, which operate almost but not quite on the edge of distortion, offers the scariest of all Buckland vocals and, in addition to its rich lyrical imagery, a second verse I can almost smell:

In the city the railway lines scream / Steel sky and red lights, gasoline stings and blurs / Hectic energy, toxic glitter / In the dirty air of a greasy city the asphalt sweats and burns.

I wonder what she sings about ..? (It's definitely not Mayne Island.)

The process that eventually became this classic album began with the bare bones of three songs in February 2017. So it's been quite a journey for Buckland, Iredale-Gray, and their support staff – and now it is here.

The writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), a woman of considerable wit and wisdom who has endured much turmoil and suffering in her private life, once said: “Art is a form of catharsis, emotional release, purification, purification and, besides being a good album from a musical standpoint, You Don't Have to Know is a perfect example of what Parker meant by that. Especially when it comes to Buckland rising up, puffing out, and ultimately possessing the dark emotions that fueled such soul-baring lyrics, it must be powerfully empowering for her to finally let go. As someone who is impressed with their raw honesty and skillful songwriting, I sincerely hope that they do.

You Don’t Have to Know will be released digitally, on CD and vinyl on October 29th at Soundly Music.

Pre-order through Bandcamp: https://eleanorbuckland.bandcamp.com/album/you-dont-have-to-know

Acoustic version October:

WEBSITE: https://www.eleanorbuckland.com/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/eleanorbuckland/

Photo credit: Laura Parttain


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