Review: The White Buffalo – ‘On The Widow’s Walk’

Despite his songs dealing with the darker aspects of life (adversity, pain, loss, murder), there is something quietly reassuring and soothing (especially during these batshit crazy times) about the warm baritone vocals from Jake Smith, otherwise known as The White Buffalo.

Smith’s latest collection of stories, ‘On The Widow’s Walk’, opens with ‘Problem Solution’, and (after a McCartney-esque segue) Smith urges ‘Let’s just get through the day’, and the hint of hope sets the tone for the remainder of the album. ‘The Drifter’ offers up some redemption with “Lost in my dreams, in my shame, yet a flicker of hope still remains”, before the tortured vocals from Smith changes tack: “..the saints, the sinners, the losers, the winners, it’s all their fault, lets get some more alcohol and wash them away”. Smith knows how to mix it up, and increases the tempo on the toe-tapping ‘No History’. Traces of anguish are in the background though as Smith implores, “Living in the past is a waste of your life, we can’t rewind, leave it all behind.”

A masterful storyteller, Smith excels in pulling the proverbial rug out from under the listeners feet, best exemplified on ‘Come On Shorty’, a tale of moving on from a previous relationship that is played at a light, jaunty pace. Throughout the song, Smith takes on the role of the one cheated on, asking, “Why did you kick my heart in? Why didn’t you leave before you started something new?”. He wants to move on and find a new soulmate “So I can finally say we’re through”, but this is The White Buffalo and there’s always a twist. It comes on the last few lines, where Smith retorts, “Well I want a happy ending, want to get me one, find a heart that bleeds strong and true, so I can finally say fuck you.”. You mess with the buffalo, you get the horns.

If ‘No History’ provides a toe-tapping moment, then ‘Faster Than Fire’ will be the moment where drinks are tossed in the air as the crowd bust a move whenever gigs resume. A cautionary tale of climate change and environmental catastrophes, it warns of what happens when Mother Nature gets pissed. ‘River Of Loss And Love’ features an unsettling string arrangement that provides the centrepiece to this stunning, stark tale of loss. Nobody does stories of murder quite like The White Buffalo, and ‘The Rapture’ is his masterpiece. Dark lyrics about secrets buried in the woods, haunting the main character at night, played out with screams and wailing guitars, “Murder-Folk” at it’s very best.

Produced by Shooter Jennings, ‘On The Widow’s Walk’ is available now through Snakefarm Records/Universal Music Group. A stunning album for the good times and the bad.

New rescheduled tour dates:

November 2020

Sat 28th            Birmingham O2 Institute

Sun 29th           Bristol O2 Academy

December 2020

Tues 1st            Newcastle O2 Academy (upgraded)

Wed 2nd           London O2 Forum Kentish Town

Thurs 3rd          Manchester O2 Ritz

Sat 5th              Liverpool Arts Club

Sun 6th             Glasgow O2 Academy

All existing tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled dates.

For more info visit: thewhitebuffalo.com

Review – Dave

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