Tom Buenger – Suburban Gospel
This is West Coast solo musician Tom Buenger’s debut album. Tom Buenger plays acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica, and handles the lead vocals. He is accompanied by Teresa Russell and Rafael Tranquilino on electric guitar, they do a fine job in support and on backing vocals. Buenger sings in a natural and head voice to interesting effect. He uses the vocal switchovers to accentuate the mood in these all-original songs that he wrote. The album is different and grows and grow on the listener as you move through the cuts. The songs are timely and interesting and he and the two accompanying musicians work well together.
“Trouble Be Gone” is a solo cut with acoustic guitar and whistling that later adds harp, hand claps and backing vocals. It’s got a nice groove and it’s well done. Next is “A Bad Dream” with haunting slide and backing vocals on top of Buenger’s performance about this bad dream (which is life today). There is some stuff here that is different and quite compelling. “Rise Above” begins with a down ho me feel. It transitions to call and response and nice harp that builds and then finishes cleanly. “Breakdown” follows, a cut with gutsy vocals and backup and a simple acoustic guitar. The mood is dark and the overall feel is tribal. The electric guitar comes in after some hand clapping to good effect as the song builds and builds in swirls of confusion and emulation of a breakdown; the abrupt ending is also slick. “Butter My Bread” begins with harp and howling vocals and then the slide comes in as Buenger continues to moan and howl with gusto.
“Deliver” opens the second half of the songs. It also begins simply and then some very emotive slide and backing vocals add to the mood. It’s a dark and somber feeling cut about unrequited love. “Girl On Fire” is a love song that begins simply and builds a bit. Acoustic guitar and maraca start with Buenger’s lead and then again the electric guitar and backing vocals add to the mix to beef up support. “Change” follows and the song describes the inevitability of change. The songs begins with the vocal support upfront; the vocals are really cool and the harp is well done here, too, as Buenger sings with passion. “Here With You” is a slick cut as Buenger describes how happy he is with his woman; he wants to marry her and go off and do great things together. He sets a nice groove on his acoustic guitar and layers in some tasteful harp beginning mid cut. It’s a bit funky and well done overall. The final track starts as a quiet and somber tune with guitar and harp as Buenger sings with this ballad with nice pacing and emotion. It almost feels like a down homey/cowboy sing but it’s not, it’s just a simple and effective acoustic ballad.
As I said, the album grows on you. At first I started to wonder why he uses his head voice so much, but then the effect he’s trying to have on the listener becomes evident. He’s a very decent singer and he and the backing singers do a great job with call and response, harmonizing, and just doing some fine work together. I enjoyed the CD and I think it’s well worth consideration for addition to your collection; you won’t be disappointed. It’s also a really well done debut album for this great young artist.