Jake Smith's "The White Buffalo" conjures a mythic portrait of America. A country populated by outlaws, dreamers, drifters and fallen heroes. It imagines our small towns before the days of strip malls and chain restaurants. With a voice that seems to emanate from some ancient source, his dynamic performances range from a whisper to a scream.
The White Buffalo's first release, The White Buffalo EP, produced by Eels' Koool G Murder, is about "relationships, love, loss and booze with a little murder mixed in" and in 2008 in a friend's living room, he re-recorded his first album, Hogtied Like a Rodeo only this time "with more guts and less whiskey", dubbing it Hogtied Revisited. Combined, these independently released albums have sold over 20,000 units, as Jake toured Australia, Japan, Europe and the U.S.
In 2010, the music and the Artist captured the attention of Unison Music's Bruce Witkin and Ryan Dorn, who inked Smith and co-produced Once Upon a Time in the West. "When we sign someone, we look for someone who can play live and has songs with longevity," says Dorn. "He's a terrific story teller and his performance is right in your face," adds label founder Witkin. The songs on his new release Once Upon a Time in the West (Unison Music/EMI Label Services) are rooted in everyday struggles, on both epic and personal scales, with elements of blues, country western, folk, and classic rock. The influences of story-tellers like Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt, Elliot Smith, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Bad Religion shine through. The album ranges in themes from slices of life in the shadows ("The Bowery") to coming out of a battlefield ("Ballad of a Dead Man") to dark heroic fantasies ("The Pilot") from putting the concepts of family and country under the microscope ("I Wish It Was True") to etched childhood scenes ("BB Guns and Dirt Bikes," "The Witch").