Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, by The White Buffalo
Suggested by Mark Davis
Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights is an album of contrasts.
To be fair, that’s plain to see from the album’s cover. Harsh black on bright white, mirrored silhouettes of what I presume is The White Buffalo himself, a placental Rorschach test that conjures both ruptured lung and royal butterfly depending on the mood of the viewer.
The mood of The White Buffalo himself has similar whiplash swings throughout the album, stepping from dark and powerful rock themes to light melodic offerings, back and forth, heel and face, like Aerosmith both before and after they went on a Full-On Ballad Bender. From Darkest Darks to Lightest Lights indeed.
For those unaware, which included myself until a few hours ago, The White Buffalo is a forty-something American singer / songwriter / guitarist, specialising in country blues and folk rock. His signature sound isn’t unique, with notes of Bruce Springsteen and Chris Rea, and even the Fun Loving Criminals in places. But it’s definitely poised and alluring, wrapping it arms around you and drawing you into its smoky saloon with a glass of bourbon and a slow smile.
There’s a masculinity to the songs, even the more sentimental numbers, which could be off putting to some. Maybe that’s the country influence, with its machismo and flatbeds and implied intolerance. Or maybe it’s The White Buffalo’s voice, which manages to be gruff and growly even in the smoothest of the songs on offer.
Predictably, my tastes and opinions on this album are as contrasting as the music dictates. I’m far more drawn to the Darkest Darks than I am to the Lightest Lights. If I Lost My Eyes, where The White Buffalo contemplates going blind, comes across as maudlin to me, while Nightstalker Blues, a bouncing track detailing a terrifying real-life serial killer, has me punching the air like the devil-baby I am.
My favourite track, Robbery, is a bass-driven sweary corker that tells a dark story with verve and sass that’ll get a fair few replays in the coming weeks. Then there’s I Am The Moon, bringing the mood back down, the title of which is pure Mighty Boosh. Look, there’s Neil Armstrong, walking on his face.
I give the Darkest Darks an 8, but I give the Lightest Lights a 3. Admittedly, that’s purely my personal taste, my leanings to the darker side of the street. I’ll average it out at a healthy 6/10, and recommend this album to anyone who can be at peace with its duelling nature.