The White Buffalo Describes ‘Year of the Dark Horse’ Ahead of Southern California Shows – Orange County Register

When Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jake Smith, known by the nickname The White Buffalo, started toying with ideas for his eighth studio album, he decided to challenge himself by doing something sonically and lyrically different.

When he googled his band, he saw that they had essentially been categorized into the country genre, which he said he could understand, but it didn’t feel quite right.

“That would blow my mind,” he said during a recent phone interview while traveling to support the new concept album Year of the Dark Horse, which was released on November 11th. The White Buffalo is also coming to The Regent on December 1st in Los Angeles, December 16th at Observatory North Park in San Diego, and returns in 2023 with a show at Observatory OC in Santa Ana on January 14th.

“I never thought country was my thing,” he explained. “I don’t sing about solo cups and trucks and girls in jean shorts… I always just write whatever comes to my mind and it’s always been a genre-less thing.”

Smith – whose eclectic sound encompasses elements of folk, rock, blues and Americana roots music – gained popularity when his songs were used on FX drama Sons of Anarchy. During the show’s final season in 2014, his music served as the soundtrack as he provided a total of 11 songs, with the final song in the series finale “Come Join The Murder” starring The Forest Rangers The White Buffalo earning him his first Emmy nomination for the award. His songs have also been used on television shows such as This Is Us, Californian, The Punisher, and feature films such as Shelter, Safe Haven, and West of Memphis.

In an effort to shake up the very specific label he’s been given, Smith said he decided to put away his acoustic guitar when he started writing songs this time and grabbed a synthesizer to help out during the pandemic lockdowns to play with at home.

“I started writing with different sounds on an instrument that I really didn’t even know what I was doing with,” he said. “Because I’ve pretty much always written on acoustic guitar exclusively, it opened me up to different soundscapes and melodies and opened up this whole new world for me, which is also a huge inspiration for me on this new album.”

The concept for the album took shape as he designed the story arc to follow an anti-hero through the four seasons and also incorporate a love story. He has many musical influences in mind, including Electric Light Orchestra, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen, for whom he will tour Italy in 2023.

While not entirely fiction, he said the songs contain more autobiographical lyrical content than he realized at the time of writing. Smith also worked with a new producer, Jay Joyce, who has produced songs and albums for artists such as Eric Church, Cage the Elephant, Emmylou Harris, Fidlar and Patty Griffin.

“He’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a scholar or genius I’ve worked with,” he said. “He pushed us to the limit and I just wanted to get out of the cages I was trapped in.” The White Buffalo Describes ‘Year of the Dark Horse’ Ahead of Southern California Shows – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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