Courtesy of Cheyenne Ellis
Just like the name he goes by, the white buffalo is rare, American and has a great spiritual importance.
The rising Americana/alternative-country artist, The White Buffalo, will be playing The Basement Saturday at 7 p.m., as part of his tour with Chadwick Stokes, in advance of the release of The White Buffalo’s new album, “Once Upon A Time In The West.”
Jake Smith, whose stage name The White Buffalo was given to him when his friends picked it out of a hat, is an artist who lives what he sings about.
Smith developed a keen sense of processing the world around him that manifests itself in his sound, he said. From growing up in Oregon to the California coast, music has always been a part of him, he said.
“I have always kind of done it,” Smith told The Lantern. “Ever since I started writing chords I’ve been writing lyrics.”
This album, which has a varied subject-based tempo focuses on the grander kind of scope and is about life in general.
“Its about the fun journey where there are dark moments and then lighter moments,” Smith said.
Compared to his older music, which Smith explained as dark stories that oriented around relationships and booze, the songs on his new album tell an American story about political moments, war dialogue and childhood moments growing up.
His guitar-focused authentic songwriting comes from the days while living in San Francisco, he said. Smith said he collected his lyrical content and ideas through all of the characters and experiences he encountered.
“They (the songs) have a story of consciousness that at the beginning I don’t even know where they come from,” Smith said. “They’re from a place I’m not even aware of at the time. I don’t think things inspire me. It’s more about my life experiences.”
At moments, Smith’s songs, which he described as “nostalgic,” can be tender in parts, then his strength of character comes to show.
“I want every song to have an impact,” Smith said. “I want for them to have an emotional connection with people … Isn’t that the purpose of it all anyways?”
This album, which is stylistically broader than his last, incorporates Americana, blues, folk, country and a little bit of swing. It took two months to record and was a lot more focus compared to his last one, which only took six days to record, he said.
“This was the most focusing I have ever done,” Smith said. “Although I wasn’t used to going into the studio without having everything, or even more than half, not ready, it was fun and exciting.”
Overall, Smith feels this album has a nice pedal feel throughout the 13 different tracks, where listeners can catch the piano at times and even a little banjo.
Smith recently performed at Bonnaroo and is riding an increasingly steady wave of word-of-mouth.
“His voice is haunting over his raw, powerful music and honest lyrics,” said Jamie Hamann, a fourth-year in political science, in an email. “He’s really a force to be reckoned with. When he takes the stage, his presence really fills the room and he’s instantly noticed. Then once he begins to play, everyone just becomes entranced.”
Representatives from The Basement explained why The White Buffalo is a good act for their venue.
“We are extremely excited about the upcoming show as we strive to have a diverse variety of acts play at all of our venues,” said Dan Arrasmith, general manager of The Basement.
Smith is on a string of West Coast tour dates and his new album is due out digitally sometime in November.