The Buckleys Are Busy Defining Hippie Country

Music is ever changing and everyday there’s someone new. There’s some new singer or group that’s good but ultimately, they merely end up being the flavor of the month.

If they’re lucky, they might stretch that out to be the flavor of the next year or so. Every so often though, something special comes along. Something so cool and authentic that the world has no choice but to sit up and take notice. 

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The Buckleys are that special something.

Direct from Byron Bay, Australia, by way of Nashville, the sibling trio of 20-year-old Sarah (vocals, guitar and bass), 18-year-old Lachlan (electric guitar) and 17-year-old Molly (mandolin) offers a fresh breath of air with a unique sound as free as their collective spirit. “Hippie Country” is the tag bestowed upon them by some of Nashville’s songwriting greats — think Colbie Caillat meets Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls meets Taylor Swift. Maybe toss in a little Sheryl Crow for good measure. 

“We had never even heard that term. I mean, we know what hippies are, we live in Byron Bay for God’s sake,” laughs Molly, referring to their hippie/new age Australian hometown. “When we heard that term, we thought, that’s kinda cool.” 

“We went to Nashville thinking we were a country band, but people started calling us hippie country,” adds Sarah. “I’d be in some co-writes and they’d ask me what we play, and I’d say, ‘Well it’s this, but it has a little funk and a little rock,’ and they’d say, ‘Oh, you’re hippie country.’ We weren’t trying to fit in any sort of box or be anything in particular. It’s just us playing what we love.”

As their father, Mick, logged years as the drummer for Australian rock band The Radiators in addition to other outlets, The Buckleys have been in and around music since infancy. While Mick opened the door to introduce his children to music, the siblings are quick to point out he never pushed them into it. Only after they expressed their desire did he help them along, including recruiting the late James Thornbury of Canned Heat to teach them to play guitar. 

It was 2011 when Mick loaded up the young threesome and headed for Peel Street in Tamworth, home of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, to busk on the corners for festival fans. Unknowingly having entered the festival’s busking competition, fronted by then-11-year-old Sarah, The Buckleys placed in the top 10 and were invited to perform on the festival’s main stage. 

Crazy? Sure, but that’s only the beginning. 

Fast forward to 2016 when the family took their first trip to Nashville. Not interested in a sightseeing trip, they had booked two gigs before leaving Australia — one at Douglas Corner Cafe and the other at Richard’s Cafe, just outside of town. Both would prove to be monumental to their careers. At Douglas Corner, band booker and esteemed songwriter Debby Throckmorton fell in love with the trio. At Richard’s, the crowd was only five folks deep, but one of those five happened to be from the Bluebird Cafe. Immediately smitten with the trio, an invitation was extended to play the hallowed venue before they went back home. Meanwhile, Throckmorton was already setting up co-writes and introducing them to the songwriting community. In almost no time at all, The Buckleys were writing with some of Music City’s biggest songwriters. 

“One of our first co-writes was with Bruce Channel who wrote ‘Hey Baby,’” laughs Molly, shaking her head. “I mean, we walk in his house and he’s got pictures of him with The Beatles.” 

Multiple return trips to Nashville for Sarah over the next few years resulted in a plethora of co-writes with some of Nashville’s brightest songwriters, including Phil Barton, Jennifer Hanson, Marty Dodsen and Chad Carlson. And not just written with, mind you, but written hits with, as two of their songs — “Daydream” and “Money” — have already topped the Australian country music radio charts.

Boasting a sound that’s big, sunshiny and bright, their debut, Daydream, is primarily an up-tempo collection, featuring songs that are vivacious and enthusiastic. But while the songs are the vehicles, the players are the flavor. It’s not just what you play but who plays it and how you record it that can really affect an album. In this case, Lachlan’s guitar playing and tracking the songs live are both big keys to The Buckleys sound and success. 

“We love those bands from the ’70s like Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles,” explains Sarah. “Capturing that live band energy was a big part of the vision for who we are and what we wanted this album to be. It’s also really important for us to be playing on our songs as well.”

With streaming platforms having surpassed the old model of album sales for music consumption, the benchmarks of success are measured differently these days. Ticket sales are a good barometer, but given the COVID-19 state of the world, those aren’t currently possible. So that poses the question, why release a debut album now? You can’t promote it the way you normally might. There are no concerts, no radio visits, no TV performance slots. Why risk such a phenomenal record and these three strikingly wonderful personalities not truly connecting with people they way they might in a normal state? For Sarah, it’s simple.

“Why wait when the world needs a bit of smiling? People love new music so hopefully this album will help people dance and groove out and just have fun.”

Get the Daydream album on your favorite music service.

Photo Credit: Louis Murphy & Styling: Caroline Paidasch

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