It’s been a long time coming, but Write a Better Day is finally here. Buck and Evans have had a great year but the initial batch of the albums that were put out via Pledge Music were doomed because of some behind the scenes issues with Pledge not fulfilling payments. Buck and Evans grabbed that bull by the horns and self-funded the pressing of the initial run of albums for everyone that pledged on its making.
Surely, it wouldn’t be long until the real thing hit the shelves. November 15th is the official release date for the album, almost 8 months from the initial batch going out from Pledge. This is by no means any fault of the band, but merely a tragic outlook on the way that bands are treated in the modern industry. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the album first time around and I can assure everyone, the wait is worth it!
Slow Train kicks off things with a bang. I’ve seen Chris play a bunch of times both with the band and on his own at guitar clinics and it never falls short of spot on. This track was always destined for big things. I always thought that the thing Buck & Evans would probably struggle with the most when it comes to the recording is capturing the band’s vibe. The vibe is very important when you’re watching a band in the room and these guys have a chemistry on stage. Just one track into the album and that concern was quickly washed away. They sound just as good in the studio as they do on stage!
Change is a more tender piano led track as Sally shows her fantastic power and range. In many ways, some of the vocal phrasing reminds me of Kotzen era Mr Big. After Slow Train really kicks the album off it’s quite a gear change to drop to a piano only song. A bold move by a bold band.
Current single Sunrise is a moody, gripping journey through some incredibly tasty guitar tones and some powerful transitions. Buck and Evans have that whole light and shade mixture down. They can take it from a whisper to a thunderstorm at the blink of an eye. It’s hard not to sound thunderous with Bob Richards on the drums. His video stint with AC/DC and his work with other bands such as Son of Man, Asia and Graham Bonnett show how versatile he is. This song has a lot of space and Bob fills that space perfectly with some tastefully executed fills under Chris’s slowly building lead break in the middle.
Sinking sounds like it should have come straight off an Etta James album. It almost sounds as if Etta herself is being channelled through Sally Ann. When the band kick in this song has modern Americana feel. To my ears, if John Mayer joined the Eagles then we’re in the right ballpark.
Common Ground picks up the pace a little. It’s got bags of soul and some stunning melodies. It tows a line between a 60s Soul classic and the modern pop sensibilities of James Bay. That’s a good match by my reckoning. Then there’s the guitar solo. Taste, tone, harmonies… there are a million more notes that Chris Buck could’ve squeezed into this short lead break, but his restraint speaks volumes. Playing to the song is a lost art.
Back to Yesterday is a very haunting track. The almost discordant guitar with the swish of the ride cymbal creates an eerie tension for the listener which is resolved when the huge chorus kicks in. This is a fantastic song writing trick which really gives the chorus impact.
Sally Ann’s voice really shines in Fix You. While this song is a slower track, it has enough to hook the listener in based on the vocal performance alone. The song builds to an epic soundscape of guitars underneath the powerful vocal line.
Trail of Tears wouldn’t sound out of place on an early John Mayer album. It’s got a winding guitar line that dips through Sally Ann’s silky vocals. Whether by design or complete accident, Chris Buck’s guitar and Sally Ann Evans voice are a match made for each other.
Ain’t No Moonlight and Going Home are old fan favourites. I loved these tracks when I heard their earlier incarnations a few years ago and for me, they were always standout moments as the band dig a little deeper and get a bit rockier. I took inspiration from the Going Home solo when recording the lead parts in my own band Forever Vendetta’s song Just Can’t Quit You and channelled a little bit of Chris Buck in my own playing. Going Home was stuck in my head from the first time I heard the original live in the studio version.
The album wraps up with One Four. This song has bags of space, most of the verses are only underpinned with a simple drum beat and a thundering bassline from Dominic Hill. The simplicity of this song’s arrangement makes it such an interesting listen. As a guitar player, I’m drawn to the use of space to create an atmosphere in songwriting.
The songwriting that’s gone into this album certainly sounds distinctly like Buck & Evans. There are elements of other artists and genres that you can see the influence from, but when these 4 come together and work, they create something very special. A very strong debut album from a band I think we’ll be hearing a lot about in years to come.
Author: Leigh Fuge