Review :: Buffalo Saints, "Walking the Dead"

The Buffalo Saints' first proper release is trim, it's fit and it's fantastic - though at just six songs it's also begging to be more.

Locals who have followed the band's evolution for the past two years have seen a promising band become a great one. Lead singer Thom Hoskins already had the songs; he just needed the band - one that came to fruition with addition of former Gadjits guitarist Mike Alexander and bassist Nate Harold (also of Kelpie).

The band's repertoire ranges from up-to-eleven country rock in the vein of Lucero and The Bottle Rockets to late-night ballads fashioned from Ryan Adams' ghost. To put it succinctly, Buffalo Saints sound very familiar - and that's a good thing.

Hoskins has a mellow voice that he uses more and more effectively with each passing month, and Ryan Johnson's drums are a two-ton anchor for the band's thick low end. Rounding out the attack is the seasoned Telecaster mastery of Alexander and tasteful pedal steel contributions of Andrew Sallee and Jeff Jackson.

Sound-quality wise, "Walking the Dead" is above and beyond the call of duty for a debut release. Kudos to the band for investing smartly and getting their money's worth. "Walking the Dead" and "50/50" - previously circulated as demos - reach their full potential with lovely harmonies and double-tracked lead vocals, while "Off Her Rocker" adds some boozy trombone to its Waits-ian swagger.

The disc's standout track is "You Leave First, I'll Leave Last," a Whiskeytown-esque ballad with elegant fingerpicking and spot-on harmonies that builds to a dramatic climax. "Are You a Friend of Mine?" also impresses with its modern-day Springsteen vibe - huge harmonica flourishes and out-West guitars.

There's a ton of bands like Buffalo Saints, but few are this good at the straight-no-chaser singer-songwriter/country-rock thing. Be a saint and give this disc a listen.


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