Published Apr 16, 2020On the Widow's Walk, the latest full-length by the White Buffalo (a.k.a. Oregon-born troubadour Jake Smith), has once again proven that one of America's most proficient singer-songwriters might be hiding in plain sight. Although Smith has been releasing albums since 2002, the White Buffalo first came into prominence in the soundtrack to hit television series Sons of Anarchy. Since the show wrapped in 2014, however, he's released three more albums — each with its own unique brand of narrative panache.
What sets On the Widow's Walk apart from previous White Buffalo releases is the addition of Shooter Jennings in the producer's chair this time around. It's evident that Jennings' quick, back-to-basics style kept the process flowing, oftentimes only requiring the band to record two or three takes to lay down the bed tracks. Jennings' work on keys also adds some much needed flavour and discourse to the overall musical conversation that is fleshed out by drummer Matt Lynott and bassist/guitarist Christopher Hoffee. The end result is an even grittier White Buffalo that continues with the project's trademark genre-defying ways but adds a "live off the floor" texture to the overall vibe.
Case in point, the record kicks off with the earthy, hooky, meat and potatoes roots appeal of "Problem Solution" and proceeds to keep you guessing as things proceed. There's the bouncy mid-tempo, western feel of "Come On Shorty," the new wave-y appeal of "No History" and the scorched earth tones of the punk rock-imbibed "Faster Than Fire" — all strong and emotive moments in their own right. The highlight is most definitely the soul searching tenacity of gorgeous ballad "Cursive."
At any rate, On the Widow's Walk collectively sees the White Buffalo conjuring the working man's Americana of Springsteen, the storytelling of Dylan, the quirkiness of a Lennon/McCartney B-side, and the wistful baritone of Richie Havens. It's a celebration of raw emotions and the unbridled passion of human spirit in song. (Snakefarm)