Buck Meek, “Haunted Mountain” (4AD)
Buck Meek, the stellar guitarist of Big Thief, is out with his third studio album, “Haunted Mountain." It is a lovely fusion of twang and rock with prime songwriting that works to define the art of caring.
Sure, this is largely love song territory for the troubadour. He sought a bit of solace and wrote the songs in the mountains of Portugal and the Swiss Alps. But it’s a deft examination of how the heart grows, and not a breezy travelogue.
The title track is buoyed with hope as Meek sings “All of my life I’ve been a rounder / Traveling across this green land / But now that I live here on this haunted mountain / I know I’m never coming down.”
Surprises abound. The Texas-reared Meek collaborated with filmmakers working on a project about the late Judee Sill, a folk singer-songwriter who died in 1979. Meek was asked to put some of her unreleased lyrics to music for the project, and he obliged in fine fashion — released here on “The Rainbow.”
“I tried to honor her, to be a vessel for her,” Meek said in a press release. It’s fitting and it works on the short but sweet track.
In all, “Haunted Mountain” is a jangly collection of country chord structure with moments of electronic swoon, lush reverb and guitars in overdrive. The result is music as inviting and complex as the world-traveled Buck Meek. He’s Sufjan Stevens -adjacent, for those new listeners needing a cubbyhole to put him in. But his music stands on its own, and it is one of the most ear-friendly releases of 2023.