After years of solid touring with only an EP to his name, the imposing figure of Jake Smith, The White Buffalo has released ‘Hogtied Revisited’ his anticipated debut album. With a commanding voice backed by a broad range of alt-country blues, it’s a release that’s well worth getting a hand on.
The National Bison Association of America has estimated that only one out of every ten million Buffalo births yield a White Buffalo, a creature of sacred importance throughout Native American history. Whilst there is to be no animal advocacy in this review, it’s fitting that the music of Jake Smith is released under the banner of the White Buffalo, representing the mind behind the music of what is, for all intents and purposes, a one in ten million creation.
Having toured with nothing but his incredibly loved self-titled 2005 EP in the White Buffalo’s discography, there were many questions placed as to what exactly was going on. Extensive touring saw hundreds of new songs debuted, played, and responded to with fervor…yet no album came to pass. Maybe it was this that generated the mysticism surrounding what many have called a legend in the making, a man with a voice containing the power of Eddie Vedder across finger-picked guitars and the occasional yodel.
‘Hogtied Revisited,’ then, was something with much anticipation surrounding it, an anticipation that has finally eased with some very solid results. From the haunting subtlety of ‘Sweet Hereafter’ to rock-country saloon ditty ‘Hogtied Like a Rodeo,’ this album is one of incredible range and variety. It’s hard to pigeon hole into a tidy category for description and, just like the live show, is something that can only been experienced, not retold.
It’s a difficult album to judge. It’s not a perfect album, but at no stage does it ever try to be. There is nothing you could pick out to detract from what it is, but it’s not necessarily an incredibly important release. ‘Hogtied Revisited’ is full of merits on so many levels. It’s only ever tracks like ‘The Madman’ or ‘The Bar and the Beer’ which become predictable, detracting from an enigmatic sensation that I’ve always felt for the White Buffalo and maybe detracting from the album on a personal level more than anything else.
There’s no doubt though that ‘Hogtied Revisited’ is something that you should own. If anything in this review twanged you with a sense of familiarity, then you probably have a predisposition to it…thus, I suggest you buy it, listen to it, sample it, overhear it…whatever it takes to give you your first experience with the White Buffalo.