Album Review: Buffalo Rose - Red Wagon EP

 Photo by Sam Suter.

Photo by Sam Suter.

This time of year can be stressful. Between holidays, work deadlines, finals and family, sometimes it's hard to find the space to breathe and be by yourself. Buffalo Rose's newest EP, Red Wagon, out Nov. 19 provides the perfect soundtrack to life's few still moments. Slyly strummed acoustic guitars, lightly brushed drums and organic-sounding harmonies blend like cream in coffee to bring comfort to winter's cold, dark days.

That's not to say this is merely a winter record, however. The EP's four songs, all written by guitarist and singer Shane McLaughling, bear no spark of seasonality – only easily-relatable lyrics about finding and losing love, not knowing your place and seeking solace in friends and whiskey. At times the words can feel affectatious, but backed by such sincere vocals and deliberate melody, it's impossible not to be swept away. 

McLaughin's guitar is steady and strong, though it never overpowers the delicacy of the vocals on ballads like "Momma Have Mercy" and "Cigarettes and Whiskey." It's supported by understated percussion performed by Jules Coulson and embellished by Bryce Rabideau's mandolin.

The earthy, organic vocal harmonies are really what make Red Wagon standout. McLaughlin's unornamented singing is given depth by the addition of Lucy Clabby and Mariko Reid. The three sing superbly together, no one ever stealing another's thunder. Rather, the vocal lines merge form one solid, strong sound, like the branches of three trees wound together. This is felt most keenly on the EP's opening track, "I Can Get High."

The split between ballads and peppier tunes is 50/50, but even on the more upbeat tracks, the soft sounds, homogenous vocals and steady rhythms are comfortable enough to really sink into. It's a quick, effortless listen, which makes it ideal for digesting during a few moments alone. Find a comfortable chair, silence your phone and pour a hot drink (maybe with a little whiskey) and enjoy an early gift from Buffalo Rose.

 

Red Wagon is available on Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes. The first 100 copies of the EP come with a little something special. See Buffalo Rose tonight at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy!