Mariel Buckley draws comparisons to other independently minded performers, like Brandi Carlile, because she performs country-adjacent music without also fully playing the mainstream Nashville game. However, whereas Carlile mixes encouraging positivity along with her bracing honesty, Buckley tends to focus much more on the negative. Everywhere I Used to Be, although done well, is also a bit of a downer most of the time.
“Hate This Town,” for instance, finds Buckley “buying cocaine outside the Circle K,” and not caring what that drug purchase means for her health. She later sings about robotically drinking to excess, with no hope of alcohol making her feel any better. “God damn it I hate myself/God damn it I hate this town,” she exclaims at one point. She sings these complaints over a moody instrumental bed, and just makes this listener feel really bad for them. Sure, this was probably just a bad patch in their life, but it’s still hard to feel her pain through the song.
The album’s best song is “Whatever Helps You,” which is driven by a sparse drum/bass groove, along with snatches of electric guitar and some really nice steel guitar. It sounds a lot like old school country and Buckley sings in beautifully. Of course, this portrayal of one that drinks himself/herself to sleep is not exactly a happy observation. However, it has just such a lovely arrangement, you may want to wallow in it the way you do with, say, something like Willie Nelson’s “Hello Walls.” “Shooting At The Moon,” one of the album’s singles, is also a sonic pleasure, as it gets rhythm when it gets the blues. It’s just so good to pushing back against the night with a surge of rock & roll spirit.
Mainstream country is probably not ready to hear lyrics about buying cocaine locally, so Everywhere I Used to Be is destined to be more of an alt.country favorite. But if you’re ready for tears in your blow, rather than tears in your beer, this one might just be right up your alley.