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Music Review - `The Waiting Game` by Buford Pope (jh)

Buford PopeThe Waiting Game (click on image to watch video)

1 January 2020 


One of the great aspects of this website for writers like myself is sharing new discoveries of artists with you, the readers. Just about every month one or two come along that have impressive resumes, undeniable talent that’s detectable even halfway through the album’s first track, and yet the artist remains severely under the radar. Sometimes this phenomenon is inexplicable but when we understand that Pope (a.k.a. Mikael Liljeborg) hails from small, isolated island off Sweden, we begin to understand why he’s unknown by most here in the states despite releasing seven albums prior to this, The Waiting Game.

Yes, the title could be his less than subtle way of expressing some frustration about the lack of a breakthrough, but in other sense, it reveals a sense of patience. He’s inviting us to listen, knowing that his time will eventually come. He claims that he was first interested in Dylan at the age of 15,  moving from there to Neil Young, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, and Bruce Springsteen. Yet, it took another fifteen years before he bought his first guitar and taught himself to play, returning to those early influences to forge his own style. Whatever he took from them is submerged carefully into his own singular approach. He’s not easily compared to any artist. There’s a majestic emotive touch in his poetic lyrics and an inimitably quiet power that at times can be dramatic but never overly so in his beautiful, penetrating, resonant voice.

His opening “America” is a mournful plea for acceptance that he fears will never be fully realized. He honestly bears all about writer’s block in the string-laden “Hey Hey Aha,” and shows his resiliency about learning tough lessons in the upbeat “Hard Life.” “Five Minutes to Midnight” is a gorgeous ode to youthful love and lust. “Stoned” is another string-laden tune with dark undercurrents like “America.” 

He gets introspective and a bit existential in “Tell Me What I Am,” mixing the somber with forthright lyrics as he does also in “First Blood” and perhaps best in the first-person confessional “Wanna Say I’m Sorry Before I Die.” Throughout it seems like Pope is unveiling a string of memories, wounds, and pivotal life moments. Rather than sinking into gloom and self-pity, he seems even-keeled – able to reflect with wisdom and rejoice in special moments. This is apparent not only in those already mentioned but especially in the bluesy sing-along “A Hundred” and “Ninety-Nine” as well as the sentimental “In My Hometown.” 

Buford Pope released his first album in 2003.  In the unpredictable and often unfair music business, he’s been playing the waiting game way too long. Bask in his vivid tales.


Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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