Red Light Management

The White Buffalo

thewhitebuffalo.com/

Artist Bio

“I’ve always taken great pleasure in being difficult to categorize,” says the White Buffalo’s big-voiced frontman, Jake Smith. Since releasing his first album in 2002, Smith has explored the grey area between genres, carving out a sound rooted in dark folk, countrified soul, cinematic storytelling and roadhouse-worthy rock. He keeps things unclassifiable on the White Buffalo’s sixth album, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, the most hard-hitting, electrified album of his career.

Although recorded in Smith’s hometown of Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to the country twang of George Jones and the pissed-off punk of Bad Religion, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights looks to the passion and punch of The White Buffalo’s live shows for inspiration. Smith has been a road warrior for more than a decade, doubling as his own tour manager along the way. Gig after gig, he’s built a cult following without major label support, boosting his band’s international visibility with more than a dozen TV-worthy songs — including the Emmy-nominated “Come Join the Murder” — that were featured on shows like Sons of Anarchy and Californication.

“I’m kind of an island,” he says proudly. “We tour on our own and have built our own fanbase, so the idea with this album was to capture that live feel — the passion that we produce in a stage setting — in a studio performance.”

Island or not, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights finds Smith reaching far beyond his own experience for a string of detailed, character-driven songs. Many of these tunes explore the gloomy, dangerous corners of America, spinning stories of sinners, crooks, bad decisions and broken hearts. On “Border Town/Bury Me in Baja,” a drug dealer awaits his death at the hands of the Mexican mafia. “Avalon,” a desperate, driving anthem worthy of Bruce Springsteen, finds its protagonist “wishing he could flip a switch [and] turn his life around.” “Nightstalker Blues” — an amped-up blast of harmonica-filled, guitar-fueled roots rock — revolves around the story of serial killer Richard Ramirez, whose murder spree haunted southern California during the mid-Eighties.

As the album’s own title promises, though, this is a record about balance. A record about life’s downs and ups. “I wanted to hit all the emotional spots,” explains Smith, whose voice — a booming, rumbling baritone, with a slight quaver that can sound ominous one minute and warmhearted the next — takes a tender turn during love songs like “Observatory” and “If I Lost My Eyes.”

Together, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights offers up the White Buffalo’s strongest material to date, doubling down on Smith’s strengths while pushing his sound into new territory. Stripped-down folk. Electrified swamp-soul. Heartland rock. Bluesy boogie-woogie. It’s all here, tied together by the super-sized vocals and articulate songwriting of a bandleader whose work is sometimes moody, sometimes menacing, but always melodic.

“My hope is that this album will touch people,” he says. “Make people feel. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The darkest darks, and the lightest lights.”

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Tour Dates

Aug 24 2019
Hermosa Beach Summer Series
Hermosa Beach, CA
Aug 26 2019
Belly Up Tavern
Solana Beach, CA
Aug 27 2019
Belly Up Tavern
Solana Beach, CA
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Sep 13 2019
Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival
Fredericton, Canada
Sep 15 2019
CityFolk Festival
Ottawa, Canada
Sep 21 2019
Bourbon and Beyond
Louisville, KY
Sep 22 2019
Mercy Lounge
Nashville, TN
Sep 23 2019
Saturn
Birmingham, AL
Sep 25 2019
The Loft
Atlanta, GA
Sep 28 2019
Shipping & Receiving
Fort Worth, TX
Sep 29 2019
Scoot Inn
Austin, TX
Sep 30 2019
Warehouse Live
Houston, TX