Grace Basement is the moniker of St. Louis songwriter, singer and musician Kevin Buckley. His acoustic folk songs are heartfelt and introspective, comprised of dreamy melodies, pleasant harmonies, soft instrumentation and Buckley’s soothing vocals, that have a remarkable likeness to Paul Simon, especially, but not exclusively, on Buckley’s cover of Simon’s classic acoustic single, “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War,” from the must-have music collectors’ compilation, Hearts and Bones.
There’s no question, in listening to Grace Basement’s newest album, Wheel Within A Wheel, released last August, that Buckley is an artist who has been largely overlooked. Wheel Within A Wheel is one of the best overlooked albums of 2013. Grace Basement released its debut, No Sense, in 2007.
Even after listening to the album, and his other recordings, again and again, we’re still moved each time we hear Buckley’s music. His impressive talents as a songwriter, vocalist and musician are too great not to be known to more music lovers. It’s bewildering how an artist with Buckley’s music has remained pretty much under wraps until now.
“Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War” – Grace Basement from Wheel Within A Wheel
Buckley’s songs are masterfully composed and brilliant, especially considering that he tracked all of the instruments – acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, bass, drum – himself, as well as mixed and mastered them, making him eligible for the One-Man Band classification as well. Aside from his amazing covers, Buckley’s original compositions, and performances, are magnificent, as songs like “The Way To Be” and ‘Water Flowing Over a Mountain” so clearly demonstrate. The latter track is filled with upbeat acoustic melodies, world-sounding drum beats and the rising harmonies of Buckley’s exceptional vocals. Although all of the songs on the album are wonderful, “Water Flowing Over a Mountain,” is absolutely a stand out, and one of the more energetic songs on the LP.
“Water Flowing Over a Mountain” – Grace Basement from Wheel Within A Wheel
Although he is under the radar for the most part, Buckley is not as obscure as most other low visibility artists we feature in a given year (don’t miss past Artist of the Week profiles). Signed to the small label, Avonmore, Buckley has previously opened for big artists like the Counting Crows, The Jayhawks and Blue Mountain. That’s great and all, but he should be headlining his own shows, making TV appearances and be a feature artist at SXSW.
One of the marks of a great artist is not only how well they can write, compose and perform original music, but also how well they cover other musician’s music. As previously noted, Buckley’s cover of “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War” is one of the best Paul Simon covers we’ve ever heard from another artist, and so is Buckley’s cover of Bob Dylan‘s “It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue).” Buckley doesn’t try to sound like Dylan, and doesn’t even play the song in the same time signature, yet he pays the song, and Dylan, the required respect, and still manages to make the song, for a few minutes, his own. It works; in fact, it works really well.
“It’s All Over Now (Baby Blue)” – Grace Basement from Wheel Within A Wheel
There is not one song from Wheel Within A Wheel that is a ‘throw-away’ – they are all, in our view, keeper songs. This is the kind of album that we’ll listen to for years, and part of the cafe’s permanent in-house music collection – as well as being permanently featured in the archives of IRC. Here’s another song we love from the album, “We’re Gonna Rock This Town,” which is much more mellow than it’s title suggests.
“We’re Gonna Rock This Town” – Grace Basement from Wheel Within A Wheel
Artists like Buckley give us much inspiration to keep digging through the submissions and listening to everything we can get our hands on, and to remember that there are simply too many immensely talented artists – that do not get the coverage they deserve – for us to give up on putting in all of the work required to sift through and listen to, research, listen to again, and then write up and schedule for publishing.
All we can hope is that sharing this music with the IRC community – as has happened with so many artists and bands we’ve featured over the years – gives Buckley a springboard to reach more music lovers. He’s destine for greatness. Contributing members include David Anderson, Jill Aboussie, Greg Lamb, Ian Walsh, Kaleb Kirby, Maureen Sullivan, and Jesse Irwin.
“The Way to Be” – Grace Basement from Wheel Within A Wheel
For more info, view Grace Basement’s official website
Listen to more on Grace Basement’s Soundcloud page