Larry Savoy Buford - One More Time (2016)

Larry Savoy Buford
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Larry Savoy Buford - One More Time

Larry Savoy Buford is first and foremost a writer. And as with anyone who is a very good writer, Buford loves to read. You can’t be good at the former without doing a lot of the latter. The native Detroiter had a refined writing style at a very young age, and that aroused the suspicions of a seventh grade teacher who believed one of Buford’s papers was a bit too well refined and rejected a writing assignment, believing it had been plagiarized until Buford’s mother vouched for him.

Larry Savoy Buford - One More Time

Larry Savoy Buford is first and foremost a writer. And as with anyone who is a very good writer, Buford loves to read. You can’t be good at the former without doing a lot of the latter. The native Detroiter had a refined writing style at a very young age, and that aroused the suspicions of a seventh grade teacher who believed one of Buford’s papers was a bit too well refined and rejected a writing assignment, believing it had been plagiarized until Buford’s mother vouched for him.

Buford eventually became a writer for a variety of print and on-line publications, as well working as a publicist, writing press releases for a host of individuals and causes. Buford developed a keen ear for music, and, despite the fact that he had no musical training, Buford could provide insight about a song that would make friends hear things that they hadn’t noticed. There are plenty of people with untrained music ears who read liner notes, listen intently and can bring a level of knowledge to musical conversation that belies their lack of technical expertise. However, Buford decided to go beyond being a hard core music fan by purchasing a piano and teaching himself to play and using his writing skills to compose songs. 

While in Detroit, Buford became friends with David Ruffin and pitched songs to the former Temptations lead singer. He also connected with Gwen Gordy Fuqua, the sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who was impressed enough by Buford’s songwriting chops to offer him a songwriting contract shortly after he relocated to LA. Buford wrote songs, but none were released, and he eventually requested and received his release from his Motown contract.

While Buford continued to write, he realized that he would have to take total control if his tunes would ever be released, and the end result of those efforts is the album One More Time. The 17-track record features songs written by Buford, and has him pulling one more arrow from his quiver. Buford showcases a youthful first tenor voice that falls somewhere along the lines of a Richard “Dimples” Fields. Buford is also a refined and mature songwriter who can claim influences both by Motown and the southern soul camp. Tracks such as “Umbrella Man,” reveal that Buford spent time studying at the Smokey Robinson school of metaphor. In this case, the umbrella is a metaphor for a risk averse man: “It’s raining he don’t want to get wet/And sunshine seems to make him upset/so keepin' sheltered/From the rain and shine/Protecting feelings that’s held deep inside/He’s doing the best he can/He’s the umbrella man.”

Although Buford is a Detroiter and believes that Motown placed the kind of imprint on the city’s musical DNA that country music placed on Nashville’s, his songwriting and musical arrangements have a strong southern soul component. His penchant for telling stories shows on cuts such as “I Found Out,” a song with a cast of characters that have a host of motives and intentions that reveal themselves to the singer in three connected stories would fit nicely on a Memphis based label such as Goldwax Records.

His “let the good times roll” sense of fun comes out in the album’s title track, a rollicking number with a big bass line and electric organs that beckon his date to live a little just once more. If the track’s backing vocals remind listeners of the Raylettes, that is intentional. Legend has it that Ray Charles recorded but never released Buford songs, and Buford includes his overly sentimental ballad “Ray of Sun,” written as a tribute to Charles, on One More Time. The album also includes “Soul Man,” a hard rocking and far more entertaining tribute to Buford’s friend Ruffin.

Buford’s story is one of perseverance and love for music. With his feet planted firmly in Hitsville and Soulsville, Buford brought all that he learned to these tracks that he recorded over a period of years. I don’t know if he has other songs packed away, but hopefully One More Time will not be the last time that we hear from this singer/songwriter. This is a long vaulted project that has finally received the unearthing that it deserved. Solidly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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