Fact, Fiction, & Other Contradictions

Billy Buchanan

Independent release, 2014


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


John Lennon said “All you need is love”—to which Billy Buchanan might have replied, “Yeah, okay, but how about a big ol’ scoop of joy with that?”

Multitalented North Floridian Buchanan makes his living much of the time performing one of a series of covers shows he’s put together: “I’m A Soul Man” (the songs of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, The Platters, The Temptations, James Brown, etc.); “The Pioneers of Rock & Soul” (upbeat numbers by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and so on); and “Lovers Lane” (love songs from the likes of The Drifters, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Lionel Richie). A common thread in each of the above shows is Buchanan’s acknowledged idol, the great Sam Cooke.

Buchanan also sings worship music, produces for other artists, and puts together Christmas shows every time the season rolls around, all of which would appear to leave little time for crafting, recording, and performing original tunes—but somehow, for this irrepressible performer, it does. While his most recent album is a live set of classic rock and soul covers (2019’s Live! Act 1), his 2014 release Fact, Fiction, & Other Contradictions is all originals in much the same musical vein.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That familiar ’60s rock and soul sound—lean, nimble guitars, driving rhythms, Hammond organ and a fat horn section—is exuberant all by itself, and only magnified by the pure, unfiltered joy Buchanan pours into every groove. This is a man who loves what he does with a unquenchable passion.

The autobiographical mission statement “Music In Me” kicks things off in fine style, a driving soul-funk number featuring guitar, organ, horns, and a falsetto chorus that lifts the song onto another plane. The propulsive soul anthem “Your Love Is So Deep” follows, rich with Motown stylings, right down to the simplicity and directness of the lyric (heard again on the steady mid-tempo message song “Man To Man”).

Album highlight “Sam & Otis” is a bounding, giddy, hand-clapping, finger-snapping tribute to Buchanan’s two biggest musical heroes, one hundred percent guaranteed to set your hips to swiveling. It’s perfectly paired with “You Love Me,” a sweetly passionate love song featuring big bluesy guitar as Buchanan expresses his amazement at being loved in a gently urgent voice that reminds of both Otis and Keb’ Mo’.

Buchanan’s luminous positivity comes through again in “27,” an airy, thoughtful number deconstructing the “27 Club” legend: “How many heroes have to fall before we learn our lesson? / There’s nothing cool about being dead at twenty-seven.” The similarly message-driven “The Joneses” finds Buchanan decrying materialism and the rat race to an effervescent James Brown funk groove, leading into the beautiful ballad “The Song I Never Wrote,” expressing all the feelings otherwise left unsaid.

The album closes out strong. “That’s When the Rain Comes” is a hard-driving, heartfelt number about a fallen addict trying to put his life back together. “It Won’t Be Long” finds a bounding bassline supporting a song about taking on prejudice and persevering to achieve justice in the end: “It won’t be long / Got to hold on.” Finally, the title track delivers a blast of deep, churning funk with a bit of a Sly & The Family Stone feel to its dense arrangement as Buchanan delivers a grooving sermon on the dangers of practicing deception.

Buchanan is a performer first and foremost, with a flair for drama and charisma for days. His original lyrics, heartfelt as they are, sometimes lean on cliches, but his abundant passion and tremendous conviction sell every word. Billy Buchanan is a man on a mission—to bring back the sounds of classic rock and soul, but also to infuse his audience with both joy and a sense of purpose. And I am there for it.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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