Based on its cover art and liner notes, The Afterbucket Experience is something like a nasty hangover or the day after Christmas–the inevitable, recurring moment when all the euphoria ends and the only thing left is to move on or regress into the same situation. Saylor’s album–with its lengthy track list of standard country arrangements and focus on a single theme–recalls another debut, Terry Allen’s Lubbock On Everything. But instead of revolving around the West Texas Plains, Saylor’s songs occur in no physical location; they deal with the human soul and its tendency towards reuse, renewal and redemption.
Somehow, Saylor writes upbeat campfire folk tunes out of such solemn subject matter–kind of a Holy Modal Rounders’ treatment to mid-life crises. Kitschy yet serene, his lyrically clever songs reflect this paradox, with titles ranging from “House by a Waterfall” to “I Found Your Bra Inside Your Pocketbook.” Ironically, the most poignant track has the most kitschy title, “Jesus Christ, It’s Easter.” There’s really nothing irreverent about this song; it addresses the universal hopes and pressures brought by spring, the season of resurrection.
Most of The Afterbucket Experience songs are built on lyrical patterns that recall Dylan’s earlier work: playing around a single rhyming syllable for verses at a time. All my life I’ve waited for/I don’t know what I’ve waited for/I’ve waited till my brain is sore/Still I know that I’ll wait more. Similarly, a single word that ends one phrase will assume a completely different context as it begins the next phrase. But, unlike Dylan, Saylor’s lyrics rely more on straightforward metaphors–snakes, waterfalls, Easter–to unearth life lessons through these musical fables.