Published Jun 11, 2020Asiskiy, the sophomore EP from blues rocker Bebe Buckskin, is a five-track collection that — with its wahs of slide guitar, growling riffs, harmonica squeals, and plenty of head-swaying extended jams — feels warm and familiar. It's a little Joplin, a little Sainte-Marie, a little Creedence. A timeless kind of vintage, but also one that's fresh and entirely Buckskin's own.
Buckskin has spoken about how her sensibilities have been largely cultivated by her upbringing in the remote wilderness of the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement in Northern Alberta. Lyrically, Asiskiy (which means "earth" in Cree) digs deep into these roots. Buckskin is contemplative about where she's headed on opener "Muddy Tracks," a melodic cut that gradually builds into an electric crescendo. The broody "Muskeg Blues," an instant classic, makes reference to a swampy paradise. "Stockin' Wood," another highlight and featuring slide guitar legend Ellen McIlwaine, has Buckskin belting about the Woodstock daydreams she mused on a kid while completing chores of chopping and stocking wood. "Cicada" opens with the crackling of a fire, while Buckskin's voice is smokey, billowing over acoustic strums, while the powerful, country-tinged closer "Pekiwewin" includes glorious chanting in Buckskin's Nêhiyaw language.
While her storytelling is vivid and compelling, Buckskin's force of a voice is perhaps the biggest draw in. The brawn of it was obvious on 2015 debut EP Flight — if not restrained ever so slightly on the title track) — but here, she completely flexes her muscle, full throttle, full Joplin, into a husky blast. The soulfulness pairs perfectly to the music's grit.
Though only a few tracks long, Asiskiy delivers an impactful punch. The poetry of it all — the riffs, the lines, the voice — lingers after the blow. It's a cohesive and exciting effort from an undeniable talent, and makes the anticipation for Buckskin's forthcoming full-length, which was recorded at FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (boasting iconic alumni like Wilson Pickett and Etta James), run very high. (Independent)