Few performers combine the lyrical heartfelt authenticity of classic country music with a steely-eyed intensity that compels an audience’s attention like Calgary, Alberta’s Mariel Buckley. Amidst a sea of neon-Nashville superstars, Buckley offers a crunchy, roots alternative. It’s the kind of sound many musicians take years searching for, and the arrival of Buckley’s spectacular sophomore full-length album, Driving In The Dark, proves that she hasn’t taken a moment for granted. Delivering on the promise of her previous album, Motorhome (and then some), Driving In The Dark finds Buckley planting her flag firmly as a songwriter who’s here for the long haul, one with the chops to hang with the greats she finds herself sharing stages with more often these days.
She continues to depict the trials of everyday life with unflinching honesty, painting poetically plainspoken highs and lows, long nights and hard days, all filtered through her wry, no-bullshit perspective. Much of it was stoked by the impressive team she assembled for the recording sessions, led by producer Leeroy Stagger at his Rebeltone Ranch studio in Lethbridge, Alberta. Musicians on the album include Stagger’s bassist and keyboardist Tyson Maiko and Michael Ayotte, veteran guitarist and noted producer Russell Broom, and Corb Lund’s drummer Brady Valgardson.
From the moment she arrived on the scene with her self-titled EP in 2012, Mariel quickly earned the respect of the Alberta roots music community. With the release of Motorhome two year later, the accolades kept growing, leading to performances in support of idols k.d. lang and Hayes Carll; as well as entertaining audiences at the Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore and Fort MacLeod Folk Festivals. No Depression hails her as, “a new Loretta Lynn, speaking her mind... Throw in a little Townes Van Zandt mixed with Joan Jett and you’ve got an artist who’s going to grab a lot of people’s attention.”
Her signature candour is part of what makes Driving In The Dark such a powerful statement by an artist truly coming into her own. Mariel Buckley could have chosen to chase a slicker, more polished sound built for radio and arenas, but instead, she doubled down on the grit and the truth in her music. It’s honesty that brought her to this point, and honesty that will continue to carry her into the future.
The self titled EP, Motorhome and Driving In The Dark are all available for purchase on Bandcamp