Friday, February 23, 2024

Buffalo Clover ‘Test Your Love’

Once one of the most eclectic band in Nashville, ‘Buffalo Clover’ now feeds a more fitting hybrid of roots-rock and soul into the Music City bloodstream.

Front lady Margo Price was born and raised in a small farming town in the Midwest, she practised and played her music locally, and soon found herself in Nashville, Tennessee – where she he met guitarist Jeremy Ivey. After they married, the couple found bassist Matt Gardner whose guitar chops were so good, that he eventually switched instruments. So they had to locate another bassist – Jason White. He and drummer Dillon Napier completed the band line-up.

Buffalo Clover

Throughout the band’s formative decade, Buffalo Clover attracted a variety of talent. Price has worked on two different projects with Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes (including on their latest album- Test Your Love.) Pianist Micah Hulscher, who plays with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson on the road, recorded on Buffalo Clover’s last record: ‘Low Down Time’, and sometimes joins the band for live performances. They’ve also shared the stage with The Flaming Lips, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and legendary sax player Bobby Keys, proving their southern soul style can match up with anyone.

In the simplest terms, Buffalo Clover are a vintage rock ‘n’ roll band, but the sounds of the South tend to creep into their style and branding. This kind of southern soul bears a striking resemblance to their idols, the Rolling Stones and The Band. Taking a cue from Bob Dylan with a lyrical poeticism inspired by the troubled times, and Janis Joplin with her rough-hewn-but-honest, bottom-of-the-heart soulful lilt, Buffalo Clover emulate their musical comparisons in a style of their own.

‘Test Your Love’ is for now sale in the UK. We had a listen:

‘The Ruse’ starts with a tinkling bar-room piano and some lusty horns. This song is a pretty basic clap-along boogie-woogie pub rocker. But when Margo comes in with her simply unblemished, liquid-silver soprano voice, you immediately sit up and take notice. Her voice reminded us of the British progressive rock singer Annie Haslam (Renaissance), rather than of any ‘soul singer’. For example, her voice does not have that swagger, or that tobacco and sour mash bitterness or the unbridled sexual energy that one normally associates with the genre; ( Think of Dusty Springfield, Macy Gray or Amy Winehouse.)

On the next track – ‘Truthfulness’ – we have a shimmy-shimmy rhythm that will cause your knees to knock and your shins to shake. It’s foot-tapping fun. When the “Gimme the truth” chorus blasts in – with thick, ripe horns squirting off rudely in the background – you can really start to feel that the do-wopp is working. And you could even get up and dance.

Put on your satin jacket for the next track ‘Same Side’ too. This is a slower number, with plenty of strained grimace and bleached heartache on display. It reminded us a lot of London-based band Saint Jude (with Lynne Jackaman fronting it.) But – even with all that taught soulfulness – this still sounds like a band who longs to have fun. You can almost see the smile on the faces of the musicians as the piano sprays out its tantalizing chirrups, the roguish drums fold back on themselves, and the singers start their chocolatey accompaniment.

‘Temporary Satisfaction’ immediately sounds like something from the Alabama Shakes songbook. Superbly intricate guitar-work, highly motivated lyrical content: (“That kinda love won’t get you too far…”) and a swaying ballroom pace. It sashays around the plantation house salon with an air of regal composure and cool allure.

‘Why Can’t You Understand’ has a swinging poppy beat ( imagine the mini-skirted go-go dancers in the background) and then we come to the slower rat-at-tat charm of ‘Hey Child’. This is a poignant song – a heart-tugger and tear-jerking. The horns build-up the excitement… and the guitar (along with the pleading voice) brings home the drama and the tension.

‘Come Into My House’ is the first song on the album that (we felt) was really reminiscent of the Rolling Stones. The voice is as sweet as honey and as pure and as fresh as the Appalachian air. And ‘Guilt’ is exuberant and rousing. A celebration of honky-tonk piano and crunchy guitars.

‘Let It Go’ has that spidery walking bass and lazy yawning stride that reminded us of some of Rod Stewart’s earlier songs. It has a generous portion of stunning slide guitar and a gaseous quality that evoked a steamy morning waiting forlornly on the platform of Calhoun Street station. “Darling, I hate to leave you [but] The more I travel, the less I miss my home…”

I imagine that many newcomers to Buffalo Clover will go directly to ‘Misery’ on this album. This is the song that Brittany Howard provided vocals for. Margo’s voice is sharp and clever. Her vocal line shoots up and blasts through the bundle of accompanying influences beneath it. The guitar-work is particularly shining. And the voice of Brittany is sober and respectful. Her voice just barely glimmers and reflects above the main vocal. In reality, Brittany only provides a gilded edge to this song. In reality, this is not the stand-out track that it could be – and there are better places to start listening to this impressive band.

‘Josiah’ is a happy and boppy rock ‘n’ roll number. You will twist and jitterbug to this chirpy piece. And the album ends with ‘Sweet Wine’ and some passionate lacy vocals that will chill you with their sincerity and bewitching frankness. The cajón is lightly exploited – and the grand organ notes whelp out – to help create this miracle of sincere soul and gentle musing.

Buffalo Clover is a talented band who have provided a happy and enjoyable album. The whole ‘selling point’ for the project is the superb voice of Margo Price. She has the voice of a corn-dolly angel.

If you like the soulful/rocky sounds of bands like Saint Jude and The Alabama Shakes – then this will not disappoint.

www.facebook.com/BuffaloClover

7/10

Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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