Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
on 3 March 2012
The White Buffalo, aka Jake Smith, has a voice that is his premier instrument and quality on this debut release. It has the warble of Eddie Vedder and at times the depth of Richie Havens on the slower acoustic numbers, and a gravelly combination of both when growled on rockier, country-tinged numbers.
Opener 'Ballad of a Deadman' is a lamenting, anti-war song that recounts the loss of everyman in every war with pedal steel empathising in its plaintive strains before the voice rises briefly in anger. Second 'How The West Was Won' is a rousing, Irish folk with country banjo onslaught, the lyrics telling its harsh story 'I'm a fxxkup girl. It's how I live my life. I wish I knew how to treat you right' before the narrator contemplates 'Shall I end it all?' This leads into the stomping 'The Pilot' with the distinctive amalgam of vocal highlighted above highlighted. Fourth 'The Lone Night' slows the pace again and is the most Vedderesque in sound - these alludings meant as reference point and compliment.
Indeed, it is this vocal that carries all the songs - all good enough and absorbing in their moment of being heard. But I haven't come across that stand-out track yet and it isn't therefore the songwriting that pushes to the front in the aural queue. That said, best track for me is 'Wish It Was True' which is a more varied acoustic number with a string accompaniment that adds an appropriate emotional nuance to the other clear strength of this album, the lyrics tackling complex ideas and issues. Live performances of this can easily be found online, and quality makes itself known quite clearly here.