The Oregon-born, Southern California-bred artist has completed the record with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Brothers Osborne, Fidlar) at his Neon Cross studio in Nashville. For THE WHITE BUFFALO, aka singer-songwriter-guitarist JAKE SMITH, it was time to take the less-traveled path and embark on a voyage of discovery.
“You think we’re a country band? A folk band? Americana? Rock? What the fuck are you gonna say now?!” says SMITH. “With this album, I wanted something outside of what I’ve ever done. I wanted to open up. Do something dangerous. I’m hard to put into a singular genre as it is, but now I really wanted to take away any kind of preconception or pigeon-holing.”
SMITH adds, “And don’t ask me, cos I don’t know what it is! It’s a genre-bending thing--there’s elements and influences from ELO, Daniel Lanois, Tom Waits, The Boss, circus, pirate music, yacht rock, and I’m driving and pushing some of these numbers in a way I’ve never done before.”
Roughly based around the shifting of the seasons paralleled with the shifting of a relationship, on YEAR OF THE DARK HORSE, SMITH continues his evocative storytelling through emotionally weighted songs that allow the imagination of the listener to play an important part throughout; the music builds on a tale of debauchery (of the drunken variety) and blame, of love and loss, a life lived against the odds, the whole thing set in one lunar year, following our anti-hero through the highs and lows of the seasons.
From highlights “Kingdom For A Fool,” “52 Card Pickup,” and “Donna,” YEAR OF THE DARK HORSE offers an invigorating and wonderfully unpredictable listen. A collection of 12 musical vignettes individual yet constant in flow, it’s THE WHITE BUFFALO’s most ambitious and well-rounded work to date, with the full scope of SMITH’s songwriting craft is on view.
THE WHITE BUFFALO--now with seven albums plus various EPs in its locker--is rounded out by touring/recording compadres CHRISTOPHER HOFFEE, bassist/keyboards/guitars, and drummer MATT LYNOTT.
NPR’s All Songs Considered tagged THE WHITE BUFFALO as an “amazing storyteller,” the Los Angeles Times added “Smith’s baritone echoes with villains and misfits, drunks, and philistines,” and Classic Rock magazine declared TWB “America’s darkest country/blues export…imagine a blue collar Tom Waits, or Nick Cave pumping gas in a station just off the highway.”
YEAR OF THE DARK HORSE is the follow-up to THE WHITE BUFFALO’s last album, On The Widow’s Walk (Snakefarm, 2020) which was released one week after the entire world stopped during the global pandemic.
A powerful and prolific storyteller through his songcraft, SMITH’s body of work includes prominent song and soundtrack placements in the worlds of TV and film including the shows Sons Of Anarchy, This Is Us, Californication, The Punisher, The Terminal List, and the films Shelter, Safe Haven and West of Memphis. THE WHITE BUFFALO’s dark blues and light Americana-roots-tinged folk provided a soundtrack of tunes for the entire seven season run of the FX original series Sons of Anarchy, which included 11 songs overall. The last song in the series finale for SOA “Come Join The Murder,” earned THE WHITE BUFFALO his first-ever EMMY Award Nomination.
Click to experience THE WHITE BUFFALO’s live performances below, from the BBC’s Later…with Jools Holland to a full concert from Rock Palast in Germany; expect more clips in the coming months.
With intense live performances, unique songwriting, humor and an independent attitude, THE WHITE BUFFALO has played to over 1 million fans globally and spent the past decade touring the world and winning over audiences at clubs and at U.S. and International festivals. THE WHITE BUFFALO has headlined tours in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and Canada and has toured with Jack Johnson, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Flogging Molly, Steve Earle, Chuck Ragan, Chadwick Stokes, Ryan Bingham, Donovan Frankenreiter, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Gomez, Ziggy Marley and more. Notable festival appearances in the U.S. and across Europe have expanded their global footprint including Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot, Ohana Music and Arts Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Riot Fest, Under the Big Sky Music Festival, Electric Forest, Bourbon & Beyond, Ramblin’ Man Festival (UK), Bluesfest (UK and Ireland), Mad Cool, Blues Cazorla and Azenka Rock Festival in Spain, and Strafe Blu Festival, and Aerasonica Festival in Italy, and more.
THE WHITE BUFFALO will launch a string of Canadian dates in early September and on Friday, September 16, THE WHITE BUFFALO will perform their first festival appearance this year at Beachlife Festival in Redondo Beach. Expect the group to announce a full Fall tour run soon.