Buckley

Las Cruces (Rum Bar)

Texas Platters

Josh Buckley's effortlessly sweet tenor pitched toward Gram Parsons on promising 2014 debut Blind Side of the Heart, but four-star follow-up Las Cruces throttles toward Neil Young & Crazy Horse territory from the outset. On the high desert howl of "Bakersfield," Buckley's keening regret feeds off a blur of electric guitar roar and whine, as does "Old Glory." His troubadour instincts run darkened, restless roads, with Simon Page's pedal steel and Charlie Pierce's keys leaning into the turns. "Consuela" marks the road trip's centerpiece reprieve, brief harbor before the engines kick again with "Three Chiefs," the raw "backsliding junkie" blues of "Downtown," and the Little Feat, "hippie girls" lope of "Klawson Hill." Nearly eight-minute closer "Perfect Storm" leaves the car rusting in the desert, psychedelic licks whipping up mirages in the stifling heat. Jump on Buckley's revelatory journey.

****

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