Like some Breaking Bad freak, Jake Smith, aka the White Buffalo, deals in the desperate: his world view is more Ameri-kharma than Americana, and the outlook ain’t great.
This big old baroque Buffalo lumbers and growls on the robust acoustic grunge of Dark Days, but he plays a variety of roles and introduces a cast of absorbing characters, from false prophets to teenagers living in the hinterland where dubious chemicals and internet porn are common currency.
The music is audacious, a mix of hardcore country, southern rock and deep soul. A self-confessed throwback, Smith is rather like a more muscular Neil Young. He gets cross when he sings about Modern Times and while he’s got a number of love songs they’re all brutal and twisted as in the battle-of-the sexes dissection I Got You, where he’s answered back by Oklahoman singer Audra Mae.
As bleak as it gets on Last Call To Heaven the sheer musicality is a saving grace, so while he’s depressing your pants off The White Buffalo can still thrill you with a burst of brass and a mariachi rhythm. He’s an endangered species.