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

Buford Pope -- The Waiting Game    (click on image to watch video)

 10 December 2019



It always seems like something special to come across an artist that’s never been encountered before, but yet one who also makes such the emphatic impression that you have to wonder how they managed to slip beneath the radar. In the case of Buford Pope, (a.k.a. Mikael Liljeborg), the discovery is especially significant given the fact that he has eight albums to his credit and yet hasn’t achieved the special standing he deserves with the wider world at large.

That, of course, is a pity, especially when considering the solid songcraft he shares here on his latest LP, The Waiting Game. Whether or not the title indicates that he’s patiently waiting for his big breakthrough is uncertain, but given the clarity and conviction with which he delivers his songs, that wait couldn’t conclude soon enough.

Ironically, isolation is something that Pope learned to deal with early on. Born on the island of Gotland, a Swedish settlement in the Baltic Sea, he had little to occupy him other than his early infatuation with music. He points to Bob Dylan as his initial source of inspiration, but before long, he came to discover other singer/songwriters to whom he could relate -- Neil Young, Tom Petty, Jackson Brown, Robert Johnson and Bruce Springsteen chief among them. Indeed, the emotion and expression shared by each of these artists seem to have had a profound impact on Pope’s own musical mantra and, in turn, also made a formidable impression on his craft and creativity.

Still, any comparison to anyone else doesn’t do Pope true justice. The powerful sweep that carries many of these songs -- particularly the mournful plea of “America,” the elegiac orchestration of “Hey Hey Ana,” the surging sound of “Wanna Say I’m Sorry Before I Die” -- are clearly indicative of Pope’s loftier ambitions. Nevertheless, he doesn’t allow himself to be bogged down up these dramatic devices. The jangle and drive of “Harp Life” add respite without sacrificing earnest intent. “Tell Me What I Am” may sound somber, but it’s definitely not subdued. “First Blood” finds him in a reflective mood, determined to share his sentiment.


That then is indicative of Pope’s ability to make music that maintains an emphasis on honesty as well as humility. It’s a rare artist that can convey those traits so fully and convincingly and still keep the melodies and meanings in sync. It’s one more reason indeed why this particular waiting is very much worth that weight.

Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here







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