Richard Buckner’s ‘Bloomed’ to be reissued

Richard Buckner
I’m not sure if Bloomed, the stunning 1994 debut from Richard Buckner, has actually ever been available on vinyl. But that’s never stopped me from looking. I always check when shopping, just in case, and I often imagine the feeling of triumph/smug satisfaction when – after hours, days, months, YEARS of thumbing through rack after rack of records – I find my white whale. At long last!

Or, you know, now I can just wait until March 18, when Merge Records will release a CD and 180-gram vinyl reissue of the album. It’s not as dramatic as the scenario I envisioned in my head, but it will get the job done.

Bloomed is an all-time favorite, one of those Very Important Records. My first experience with Buckner was seeing him live in Tempe, with Alejandro Escovedo, in the mid-90s (or maybe it was the late 90s?) and, my God, it floored me. He’s an imposing presence on stage with a voice to match.

Naturally, I tracked down whatever music I could, and Bloomed presented itself to me at a time (in college) when music started meaning something different to me, something more. Seeing Buckner live sort of taught me how to make an emotional connection to music; Bloomed then intensified it. That night – at Balboa Cafe, if memory serves – was a bit of a game-changer in my music-listening landscape. I didn’t understand how a man and an acoustic guitar could move a room the way Buckner did. It was the most visceral music moment I’d had to that point, and, NO, I wasn’t crying, OK?

Then I took my first job out of college in Lubbock, Texas – where Bloomed was produced, by Lloyd Maines – and I liked to think I connected to the album on some deeper level: I lived in Lubbock. I get it now! I mean, when Buckner recounts the album’s creation and speaks of Lubbock’s skies hailing “so hard that heaven’s angry pellets were storming in under my motel door” or arriving “under the suspicious gaze of downtown’s Buddy Holly statue,” well, I’ve been there. More than anything, though, it’s just a neat intersection in my life: That a West Texas outpost where I once lived might have somehow shaped/influenced one of my favorite albums is cool to think about.

And now 20 years after its inception, I’ll be glad to get my hands on a proper vinyl version of Bloomed, which can be pre-ordered here. (The reissue includes a bonus CD with 11 tracks of radio sessions, live performances and original recordings of songs that appeared on future releases.)

Meanwhile, Buckner is wrapping up a living room tour (it’s absolutely killing me that I can’t make Saturday’s stop in Phoenix), and he’ll be launching another in the spring through the Midwest and East Coast.

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