The Intuitive Twang of Tim Buchanan

– photo by Daniel Giles Helm –

Okie singer-songwriter brings select country songs to life on new full-band EP

Tim Buchanan starts his latest album staring himself in the face.

“I look in the mirror, and what do I see? / Heavy eyes staring at me,” Buchanan sings in the chorus of “Heavy Eyes”, the first track from The Pourin’ Rain EP, released January 21.

The second verse continues: “As if it were all the same / I’d cry in the pouring rain / Forget my own name / I can’t explain.”

“Heavy Eyes,” Buchanan explained in a phone interview, “is a pretty simple” song he wrote to comfort himself “after a shitty day.”

“I can’t remember exactly how it happened. I rarely can,” Buchanan said. “I’m not a very disciplined writer. …  I have a lot of song ideas. I always have. They come from different places, but typically, most of the lyrics and that sort of thing are experiential more than some sort of character writing or something like that. … It’s mostly stuff that’s helped me understand myself in some sort of way.”

In addition to Buchanan’s vocals and guitars, the three-song EP, credited to Tim Buchanan & The Trumpet Vines, also features Don Eisenberg on drums, Atlee Hickerson on bass, Blaze McKenzie on guitars, Sarah Reid on fiddle and Lenora LaVictoire on backing vocals. 

The songs were written and developed with the band over the past couple of years.

– photo by La’al Shams –

“These are the ones that kind of just called my name,” Buchanan said. “It’s what sounds best with the band right now and what feels best and what is relatable to me. … There is something about, with this group of people, the way that it feels when we play together that it was important to capture for me, or at least try to capture.”

The EP’s second track, “Laughter”, is not as cheerful as it sounds. Buchanan said it was written “in the wake of a family tragedy.” 

“It’s a very heavy thing, for me at least,” he said.

Following a mournful fiddle intro, Buchanan sings “I’m breaking down / I don’t know whether / To turn and run / Or stay and cry.”

The final verse implores an unnamed listener: “Just lay me down / Beside the water / Don’t wake me up / Don’t tell me why / Someday I’ll find you / I know you’ll be there / Just as sure as I know / The sun will come.”

Then the chorus comes in once more, concluding with the repeated line “My love will never die.”

Buchanan said “Laughter” represents a “bit of a departure” from his typical songwriting style, which, while usually “extremely personal” typically tends to “skew toward the abstract.” 

“It’s not always like I can nail a song to an experience,” Buchanan said.  

His lyrics recently have been getting more specific, however.

“Looking back, I feel like there’s been sort of an arc from, I don’t know, say, seven, eight years ago when I first started realizing what writing meant to me and my first serious explorations of that,” Buchanan said. “Between there and now, as I’ve developed, I’ve started to find a language. .. As I’ve grown as a writer … I do find songs popping up out of particular moments in time a little more often.”

Because of the personal nature of his songs, revisiting older albums gives Buchanan insight into his personal development. 

“I remember the experience of it so viscerally, and [that helps] me know which of the paths that I’ve been down are worthwhile,” Buchanan said. “It informs my future as I learn from the past.”

Buchanan said he doesn’t see a separation between his growth as a musician and as a human being. 

“I’ve never felt like it’s appropriate to go halfway in and, like, dip my toes,” Buchanan said. “If you’re not nourishing yourself or your music, it’s just apparent.”

– music video for “Grinnin'” from 2019’s Tim Buchanan with Dusk… and on His Own

The EP’s final track “Coming Home/Hopeful Feeling”, Buchanan said, “is not so heavy.”

“It’s just more like a ‘I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing’ type of song,” Buchanan said. “It feels kind of light, and it’s kind of a fun song.”

But, like “Laughter”, “Coming Home/Hopeful Feeling” is also a variation on his standard songwriting method.

“That was kind of an exception to the typical way of doing things,” Buchanan said. “Most of the time, I bring songs [to the band] and they’re fully formed. That one … I just kind of showed up and was like, ‘Hey, I have these two songs I think would be a good medley. I don’t really know how to join them, or if that makes sense.’ And they all kind of chipped in to make that work together. That was a really cool experience to be able to trust them with developing that along with me.”

Buchanan, 32, has been playing music since he got his first guitar at 14, but the kind of bands he plays with has changed over the years. 

“I’d say for the first decade or so it was me playing and learning what the hell I was doing by playing with other people as much as possible,” Buchanan said. “Mostly, when I was young, I was in different punk bands and hardcore bands and all sorts of nonsense music that I fully enjoyed. … I just loved it as loud as possible. If it was extremely fast or extremely slow, even better.”

He may have started out in noisier bands, but the rootsy sound of Pourin’ Rain draws its inspiration from his earliest experiences with music.

– photo by La’al Shams –

“I grew up around country music,” Buchanan said. “I guess, at a certain age, Slayer sounded cooler to me, but as I’ve grown, I’ve kind of just come back to what I came from.”

But whatever the genre or songwriting approach, Buchanan tries to operate from instinct.

“Honestly, I don’t think about this stuff much,” Buchanan said. “It’s one of the things where it’s kind of innate and I trust it and I enjoy it, so I don’t intend to, like, name every piece of it. 

“I’m not afraid of scaring it away or something like that. It’s genuinely just a part of my life and who I am, so it’s hard to describe. It’s like the way you talk to someone, or the way you relate to a friend. … There are certain things that you just have to be honest about and trust and experience them. And so, that’s my goal, with my music is to experience it myself. I feel that if I do that thoroughly and honestly, then it’s bound to translate to someone else, which is what’s important.”

Jeremy Martin
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Jeremy Martin writes about music and other stuff in OKC. He's also the less funny half of comedy duo The Martin Duprass and the proud father of two delightful baby turtles (pictured).

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