The raw sizzle of discord hits us in the face around the sixty-second mark in “The Drill Bit,” but we’ll revisit it many times before “Hope Springs Eternal” rolls into focus. “Banging Into Bedrock” assaults us with Megadeth-style thrashing, but it’s as much of a classically constructed effort as “Come to the Water Table” or “The Artesian Well” are. “The Alluvial Aquifer” and “Breaking New Ground” both utilize multilayered harmonies to get a point across to their audience about the emotional depth a guitar can create when paired with the right instrumental components, whereas a well-appointed cover of Jeff Beck’s “The Pump” and “Lost River Underground” require a slightly more elaborate stance on arranging from start to finish.
There are no filler songs in Robert Bussey’s I Dug a Well – truth be told, there are no tracks that I would recommend leaving out of any given listening session spent with this record, as it would ultimately reduce the overall impression listeners are going to step away from its tracklist with. A conceptual masterpiece is hard to make without having a lot of different hands in the mix, but in this album, Robert Bussey shows us he has the ingenuity to compose it all by himself.
You don’t need lyrical elements to express passions as grand as those in “Lost River Underground” and “Changing the Channel,” but instead only the right backend to support the weight a guitar will inevitably supply any mix with in these songs. There’s unquestionable poetic value to even the most fundamental of components in I Dug a Well; from “Breaking New Ground” and “The Pump” to “Come to the Water Table” and “The Alluvial Aquifer,” the studio itself acts as a point of reflection for any and all sentiments stirred up by the instrumental interplay. Reverberating harmonies bleed into one another in a lot of this material, but it never sounds as though this were the result of a muddied production hand (quite the opposite, honestly). Every moving part in I Dug a Well seems to be deliberately positioned to achieve something on the other side of the speakers, which isn’t something that can be said for the vast majority of plasticized mainstream content coming down the pipes this June.
Robert Bussey’s new album is definitely one of the most moving and provocative instrumental works I’ve had the pleasure of looking over in the past couple of months, and for all that it lacks in straightforward verses it more than makes up for in melodic ribbonry as communicative as any human I’ve ever met before. It takes something more powerful than words to make the feelings behind this record real for the listener, and luckily for us, Bussey is just the sort of musician to assemble such a vehicle for expression inside of ten tenacious new songs. It’s classical and complex yet unbound to any one specific rulebook, and in 2021, that makes I Dug a Well an album that just about every audiophile needs to go out of their way to hear.
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