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Buckeye

Amigo and the Underbelly Blues – 2001 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Sophie Best

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CDs by Buckeye

Blame it on the tyranny of distance. It's been almost two years since Buckeye's debut long-playing work, but seeing as the band members live in San Francisco and Pittsburgh respectively, the wait for this six-song EP may be understandable. And worthwhile.

Principal songwriter Scott Hylbert's urbane, pensive voice recalls a young Jeff Tweedy, and the second track, "Universe," with its upbeat country-pop swing, would not sound out of place on Wilco's debut "A.M." Elsewhere, there are shadows of Neil Young's "Rust Never Sleeps" era, minor-key laments and plenty of folksy roots. A standout is "Trial," a modern-day outlaw ballad where the bandit is on trial, not for theft or murder, but for crimes against the heart.

A fine roster of guest talent includes Chuck Prophet (ex-Green On Red) and Dave Zirbel (Trailer Park Rangers), both in multi-instrumentalist mode, Chip Roland (ex-Doug Kershaw) on keyboards, and Belleville's Peter Dominguez on banjo, all of which makes for a finished, fleshed-out sound. There are still plenty of open spaces, however, allowing the songs to reveal themselves on their own terms. A lovely offering, if all too brief.