Prepare for Black & Blue

[Rough Shod]

Take this EP’s title at face value: These are rough-and-tumble tales of damaged relationships, drinking and blood spilled. While “Love Song #2” is indeed a love song, it’s one that’s twisted up with drunken fights, an absent lover and the loneliness of the road. “Black & Blue” contrasts its gentle acoustic setting with a vivid portrait of a volatile relationship, while “In the Sun” tells a dark tale of escape. The impassioned ferocity with which White Buffalo leader Jake Smith sings “Oh Darlin’ What Have I Done” chillingly conveys the mental state of a tormented man who’s at the point of breaking down. His husky vocal growl conjures up thoughts of Eddie Vedder, while his spare, folky arrangements recall Cat Stevens or Ray LaMontagne—if they played biker bars. However, as demonstrated on this impressive, intense and all-too-short five-song disc, the White Buffalo should soon make the need for such comparisons extinct. –Michael Berick

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