Buck Meek’s songs are for the lost dogs of honest mechanics, good guys and girls born into a life of crime, runaways, snow spirits, the ghosts of Central Park, unsung diving-board stars, the affection shared through gambling, and so on. Bred in Texas, more bread in New York City, he spins outlaw ballads and quotidian fairy tales into a yarn, with Adam Brisbin on guitar (Jolie Holland, Sam Evian, Katie Von Schleicher), Mat Davidson on bass (Twain, The Low Anthem, Spirit Family Reunion), and Austin Vaughn on drums (Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple, Sam Evian).
Meek’s self-titled debut album was recorded with ace engineers Phil Weinrobe (Really Big Pinecone, Ceramic Dog, Nick Murphy) and Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Nick Hakim). The process took place between Rivington 66, an orange den beneath the Lower East Side in Manhattan and the cork womb of Figure 8 Recording in Brooklyn, as well as the wainscoted, old-growth oak-joisted parlor of the Lethe Lounge in upper Manhattan. In addition to the core band, album personnel includes Mikey Buishas (Really Big Pinecone) on pump organ, Dave Harrington (Dark Side, Nicolas Jaar) on pedal steel, Adrianne Lenker (Big Thief) on vocals, Buck’s brother Dylan Meek (Miguel, Grant AME Gospel Choir, Post Malone) on Wurlitzer, and Michael Sachs (Little King, Secret Sibling) on clarinet.
Looking to the past, following his fledgling years as a boy playing gut-bucket blues, manouche jazz, and western swing in bars and dance halls across Texas, he moved to NYC and released two solo EPs, Live from a Volcano (2013), and Heart Was Beat (2015). Shortly after moving to NYC, he met songwriter Adrianne Lenker, and after a year of fervent collaboration, they recorded two EPs, A-sides and B-sides (2014). The duo went on to circle the USA several times over in the orange velvet Van Bon Jovi, playing Appalachian school houses, Alabaman birthday BBQs, Arkansanian book fairs, Texan Star Parties, Massachusettsan cattle farms, Minnesotan fireworks displays, and so forth. From there they expanded into a four-piece outfit, Big Thief, and have since released two records, Masterpiece(2016) and Capacity (2017).
In the words of Mat Davidson (Twain):
“I’m going to tell you about Buck Meek the only way I know how. No bully here. I don’t take kindly to intruders, and in a such a devilish world as this, so full of trickery and illusion, you can bet your cannabis I take my sweet time to vet each and every guttersnipe that happens across my field of consciousness.
But it’s not every day that you find a 16th-generation Texan leaning on your banister and offering you a short-rib in the comfort of your very own home. How did he get there? I was alarmed. Yet, there was something unusual in his eyes… something you’re about as likely to stumble upon as you are a sleeping weasel. It was Trust. So, naturally, I invited myself into his traveling band and we hit the road.
I never had much use for friendship, but meeting a soul such as Mr. Meek gave me pause; he changed this old Buckskin – and I wager he’ll change you too.”
“tail wagging for the fat and burnt ends
what happened? you back-stabbing, two-timing, snake-eyed con-man?
you said you were my best friend.
last laughing with a strong tailwind
five miles gone before you noticed
roll in the blood of a turtle dove, make my home in the snowdrifts
you said you were my best friend.
two years’ time, the ink runs down the missing signs
throw my bone in the garbage
i’ll be chasing the sun, the moon better run, and pay no mind to the harvest
you said you were my best friend.”