The White Buffalo
“I’ve always taken great pleasure in being difficult to categorize,” says the White Buffalo’s [website | Amazon.com] big-voiced frontman, Jake Smith. Since releasing his first album in 2002, Smith has explored the grey area between genres, carving out a sound rooted in dark folk, countrified soul, cinematic storytelling and roadhouse-worthy rock. He keeps things unclassifiable on the White Buffalo’s sixth album, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, the most hard-hitting, electrified album of his career.
Although recorded in Smith’s hometown of Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to the country twang of George Jones and the pissed-off punk of Bad Religion, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights looks to the passion and punch of White Buffalo’s live shows for inspiration. Smith has been a road warrior for more than a decade, doubling as his own tour manager along the way. Gig after gig, he’s built a cult following without a major label’s support, boosting his band’s international visibility with more than a dozen TV-worthy songs—including the Emmy-nominated “Come Join the Murder”—that were featured on shows like “Sons of Anarchy” and “Californication.”
“I’m kind of an island,” he says proudly. “We tour on our own and have built our own fanbase, so the idea with this album was to capture that live feel—the passion that we produce in a stage setting—in a studio performance.”
Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights offers up the White Buffalo’s strongest material to date, doubling down on Smith’s strengths while pushing his sound into new territory. Stripped-down folk. Electrified swamp-soul. Heartland rock. Bluesy boogie-woogie. It’s all here, tied together by the super-sized vocals and articulate songwriting of a bandleader whose work is sometimes moody, sometimes menacing, but always melodic.
“My hope is that this album will touch people,” he says. “Make people feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The darkest darks, and the lightest lights.”
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