Classic Rock

The White Buffalo

Year Of The Dark Horse

- Emma Johnston

SNAKEFARM Big-screen ambition let loose on Jake Smith’s eighth album.

The new album from The White Buffalo, aka

Jake Smith, is only a fraction of the overall vision for Year Of The Dark Horse. Unapologet­ically high-concept, the rest of the story is told through the eyes of four different directors, in an accompanyi­ng film of the same name, each taking three songs to symbolise a single season in the life of its wandering protagonis­t. Happily, though, it can be experience­d and loved on its own merit.

And there really is a lot to love here. Like Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Smith has a deep, warm, dry, sandblaste­d voice that brings to life the American desert, which is perfectly complement­ed by the lush instrument­ation and layered tales unfurling throughout. Kingdom For A Fool is particular­ly beautiful – country-tinged, revelling in loneliness, and building into a kind of wild, existentia­l euphoria – while the western shanty She Don’t Know That I Lie could plant its flag between Tom Waits and Nick Cave territory while holding its head high, its deft lyricism more than justifying the cinematic ambitions of the project. Donna, meanwhile, reinvents ELO’s Mr Blue Sky and fills it with broken glass and thorns.

This Dark Horse is a magnificen­t work of art.

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