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John Saylor


Based on its cover art and liner notes, The Afterbucket Experience is something like a nasty hangover or the day after Christmas--the inevitable, recurring moment when all the euphoria ends and the only thing left is to move on or regress into the same situation. Saylor's album--with its lengthy track list of standard country arrangements and focus on a single theme--recalls another debut, Terry Allen's Lubbock On Everything. But instead of revolving around the West Texas Plains, Saylor's songs occur in no physical location; they deal with the human soul and its tendency towards reuse, renewal and redemption.

Somehow, Saylor writes upbeat campfire folk tunes out of such solemn subject matter--kind of a Holy Modal Rounders' treatment to mid-life crises. Kitschy yet serene, his lyrically clever songs reflect this paradox, with titles ranging from "House by a Waterfall" to "I Found Your Bra Inside Your Pocketbook." Ironically, the most poignant track has the most kitschy title, "Jesus Christ, It's Easter." There's really nothing irreverent about this song; it addresses the universal hopes and pressures brought by spring, the season of resurrection.

Most of The Afterbucket Experience songs are built on lyrical patterns that recall Dylan's earlier work: playing around a single rhyming syllable for verses at a time. All my life I've waited for/I don't know what I've waited for/I've waited till my brain is sore/Still I know that I'll wait more. Similarly, a single word that ends one phrase will assume a completely different context as it begins the next phrase. But, unlike Dylan, Saylor's lyrics rely more on straightforward metaphors--snakes, waterfalls, Easter--to unearth life lessons through these musical fables.

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