Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-03-02
Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace
Buffalo Tom - Quiet and Peace

With their neat hair, nice clothes and Classic Rock listening habits, Buffalo Tom always seemed like the nice, quiet boys amongst the unruly wave of lads and lasses that came over from the US in the 80s and 90s. Anyone that saw them live knew they were much more savage than that. They also released an album, Let Me Come Over, that was as good as any that their peers released at the time. Quiet and Peace is the trio’s first album since 2011.

All Be Gone starts with the familiar blend of Bill Janovitz’s guitars, Chris Colbourn’s bass and Tom Maginnis’s straight forward drumming. There is also a bed of organ sitting just below the sound of the three-piece. Janovitz’s voice still sounds impassioned and rough. Their Classic Rock chops are also still there, with a middle eight and a guitar solo – proper song-writing. Overtime is a lovely little song, sounding quite like The Jayhawks, especially with the massed harmonies and pipe organ on the chorus. The familiar tones of Chris Colbourn take over for Roman Cars. Colbourn’s songs were always something of a secret weapon for Buffalo Tom, often putting a little twist in an album and taking it somewhere that Janovitz might not have. Occasionally they were the best songs on the album. The freedom also gives Janovitz the chance to really go to town on the guitars and backing vocals. Colbourn also sounds like he might have added a few notes to his range in his old age. Janovitz is back at the mic for Freckles. There is more piano on this track, recalling Bruce Springsteen. In fact The Boss might want to use the ‘just about made it work’ rhyme of ‘ignition’ with ‘mission’. Janovitz’s husky, more careworn voice now reminds me of Mark Eitzel. Colbourn is back for CatVMouse, another great tune with dual acoustic/electric solos from Janovitz. Maginnis leads Lonely, Fast and Deep along at a cracking pace next to some frenzied acoustic and electric guitars and little hints of piano. The pace slows for High The Hemlock Grows, with Colbourn on vocals. Sarah Jessop helps out with a Country harmony. There is also a cloud of synths that place it in a similar sonic territory to Gene Clark’s No Other album. More doubled up acoustic and electric picking starts In The Ice, again they are framed by organ and several tracks of backing vocals. Some Pete Townshend strumming and we head into Least That We Can Do. Colbourn’s bass sounds huge. This is the sort of song that Maginnis would have put a very skippy drum track to in the 90s, it’s interesting that he holds back here. A slightly unlikely 70s synth peaks its head into the mix towards the end. There is also a passing reference to ‘taillights’ to keep us old folks interested. After an acoustic opening, Slow Down quickly turns into huge song where, again, the combination of loud guitars, strong song-writing and massed voices reminds me of The Jayhawks in their pomp. The album proper finishes with a cover of The Only Living Boy In New York. It is fitting that they cover Paul Simon’s touching song about Art Garfunkel leaving to shoot a film. It is a song of friendship. Janowitz and Colbourn both take lead and Janovitz’s daughter Lucy sings back up. Great songs, sincerely-sung will never be schmaltzy. Bonus tracks are quite a 90s concept. There are three on the version of this album that I have. First up is a savage cover of The Who’s The Seeker. Buffalo Tom have never made any secret of their love for The Who and it’s a pretty faithful cover that enables Maginnis to really stretch out. Saturday is a different beast altogether. An acoustic ballad backed with keyboards and strings (maybe Mellotron). Sung by Colbourn, it could probably have made it on to the album as a change of pace. Colbourn also fronts Little Sister (Why So Tired), kicking it off with a tasty bass riff. The sound of Janovitz’s guitar recalls Velvet Roof.

Fans of Buffalo Tom will be pleased with this solid album from the lads that bats all the way down the order. They have given you exactly what you want. Realistically, I’m not sure if younger fans are listening to Buffalo Tom (I don’t know that it matters). But, if they did, they’d get a rewarding dose of what Neil Young would call Ragged Glory.

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