Clarence Bucaro / Seth Walker
The fact that this is a review of new albums by both Seth Walker and Clarence Bucaro isn’t meant to suggest that they’re collaborators, ex-bandmates, part of the same regional music scene, or anything of the sort. They’re not.
But neither is comparing them unjustified. They’re pretty close in age (either just shy of 30, or a little past it); blues was a point of origin for both (Walker still has a foot firmly planted in it, but Bucaro has steadily drifted away since his debut, Sweet Corn); and they’re at similar points in their careers (this is Bucaro’s fifth recording, counting an EP and unreleased album, and Walker’s sixth).
Most importantly, they each appreciate R&B of an earlier era (Ray Charles seems to be a touch point for Walker, Van Morrison for Bucaro), and they’re warm, natural singers with easy-going voices Bucaro’s a tawny vibrato, Walker’s humid and a hair coarser.
Listen to Leap Of Faith and ‘Til Spring one after the other, and you’ll hear two different takes on the struggle to come alive again after being deadened by heartbreak and feelings of insignificance, which is what both albums are about (as much as an album can be about anything).
In both cases, form more or less equals function. On slow-burning songs such as “Renew My Faith In You” and sunnier ones such as “Back In The World” two of the strongest compositions on Bucaro’s ten-song disc nimble grooves frame reflective, even confessional lyrics. It’s a signal to sit and listen attentively: This is singer-songwriter fare (albeit soulful), a journey from the inside out, rife with nuance too easily missed.
Walker, on the other hand, has a more finessed, classically pop approach. Most of the songs on have sculpted hooks and a big, energetic sound capped by horns and strings. “Rewind”, a jaunty, ’50s-styled number, and the title track, a shuffling blues testament to regaining confidence, are two cases in point. Despite the fact that there’s a song on here titled “I Don’t Dance”, this music is meant to be felt and experienced immediately and directly, as much as heard.
Ultimately, neither approach trumps the other. Walker and Bucaro are each doing what comes naturally, and doing it well.