Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CD Review: “Red And Blue” by Mad Buffalo


Red and Blue

This CD is full of dissonance. Not musically; the tunes are for the most part melodic and wonderful stories. No, the dissonance resides in the struggle of the ‘all to modern’ present battling with the past. Where man struggles with nature and where music as a product wrestles with music that warms the heart, kick starts the brain, and tells a story of both our heritage and where our heritage is headed if we don’t wake up.

It’s not that the songs don’t have commercial value, but that they weren’t written, or indeed performed, to be a ‘product’. All of the songs presented here are in the simplest sense, stories. And the stories are about everything from forests to factories, prairies to parking lots.

With a sound that is at home in alt-country, Americana, and folk music,  influenced by Neil Young, Woody Guthrie and countless other song writers concerned with earths natural beauty and worth, not measured by what we can take out or change but by what she gives us and how we can preserve her.

‘Destination Unknown” by Mad Buffalo from the 2008 album “Wilderness”

Mad Buffalo is the nom de plume of singer/ songwriter/guitarist Randy Riviere (pronounced Ri -VEER) who hails from the Big Sky country of Montana. On this album his band consists of a stellar cast of Nashville musicians, including legendary guitarist Reggie Young, as well as Jack Holder (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Kevin McKendree (keyboards and vocals), James Pennebaker (guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo), Shane Dwight (vocals), Dave Roe and Craig Young (bass) and Chad Cromwell (drums). The album was produced by Chad Cromwell and Randy Riviere and recorded at Cromwell’s Lamplight Studio in Primm Springs, Tennessee.

The tunes presented here paint images not necessarily specific to events, but more universal and evocative. Those images will draw pictures that are new, yet somehow familiar. “Tides’ is a good example. It’s a down tempo ballad about ‘bad weather’ (“It rained some today and there’s more that’s on the way.") and then Riviere inserts  enigmatic  asides and images (“Found a note slid under my door, you ain’t coming here no more.”) He paints an atmosphere, a scene more through implication than graphic representation.

Riviere, when he isn’t writing beautiful music,  is  a wildlife biologist, and he draws from the time spent in solitude in the wilderness to breathe life into his lyrics. His use of metaphor is wonderful and subtle. His reverence for the land and nature is clear, but it is not all abstracts or still life’s he paints. “Big Joe Walker” is a very human song of romantic optimism.

Politics is bound to pop up with these kinds of themes but not as an ugly, corporate sermon, but in an abstract way that looks at the dark side of human ambition. The songs don’t necessarily preach. They leave a lot of the answer up to the listener to solve or arrive at on their own.

It’s through  these vivid scenes and leaving it to the listener to come to a conclusion that he opens his music to all of us in a way that has rarely been accomplished since Bob Dylan hitched a ride to new York City back in the early 60s.


Visit his web site for a listen to his earlier three CDs and his tour schedule. Just click the picture. Wonderful album that succeeds on all levels.


The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment