Music Reviews
Two Saviors

Buck Meek Two Saviors

(Keened Scales) Rating - 7/10

With his sophomore solo album, Buck Meek delivers exactly what one would expect from him. If you’re familiar with his guitar work with indie rock band Big Thief, you’ll know he’s always been the goofy, joyful counterpart to the band’s songwriter/vocalist Adrianne Lenker. While that radiance has always been apparent when he’s on stage, Two Saviors helps Meek refine a sound of his own that’s looser and easier than the material he plays with Big Thief. While Lenker spent her last solo album sifting through the ashes of an old relationship, Meek’s new release is centered around campfire stories, muted drums, and open acoustic guitars and pianos. This is both a strength and a weakness, as these songs don’t contain the memorability that most Big Thief tunes do, but they do have an overwhelmingly inviting and warm atmosphere. 

From Meek’s calming and twangy voice to the occasional sharpness of the songwriting, Two Saviors has several assets—but its strongest component is Andrew Sarlo’s dry, singer-songwriter production. There’s something irresistible about the crunchy guitars, muted snare drums, washed-out ride symbols, and kindness of the vocal pickups. Sarlo brings his A-game to this album, outfitting it in the crispness of classic country records like Townes Van Zandt’s self-titled. Even if quieter songs like Two Saviors or Pocketknife lack the necessary textures that really would have made the acoustic guitars sing, Sarlo consistently makes this album outstep its weight class in terms of NPR-esque folk rock.

Meek’s album is at its strongest when he leans into his penchant for pastoral details and ambling storytelling and pairs it to tight instrumentation. With the single Second Sight, Meek balances cliché and specifics perfectly. Despite a chorus that goes, “I work for free, because love is all I need,” the song’s broad lyrical outline is filled in with charming little details, like a swimming hole being full of turpentine or a man who has blue and hazel eyes. On Ham on White, the instrumentation recalls the rocking muddiness of some of Big Thief’s best songs. It’s also one of the few songs on the album where Meek’s guitar gets to rip a solo, which recalls Neil Young and Crazy Horse at their cleanest. Even if the album loses steam when a series of woozy ballads show up, there’s plenty of good to go around here. While Meek isn’t fully out of the shadow that Lenker and Big Thief have created, Two Saviors makes a fine argument that he should be taken seriously as his own artist.