There’s something ancient about Jake Smith’s voice. The man behind the name the White Buffalo, Smith’s is a deep, dark rasp, aged and weathered, wearied and wizened. So it’s the perfect instrument with which to ponder the secrets of the universe or the ties that bind his fellow humans, which is just what Smith does on the newest White Buffalo track, “The Observatory.”
“Everybody cries, everybody dreams, everybody wants, everybody needs love – and I am one,” Smith sings on the chorus of “The Observatory,” the first song to be premiered from the White Buffalo’s next LP, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights, due to be released in October. A spare arrangement with acoustic guitar and piano, it’s a showcase for Smith’s brittle, quivering vocal delivery, which he’s used to build a personal mythos of mortality and spiritual unrest.
“‘The Observatory’ is a song about the search for the universal truth. Looking within to see the connections and commonalities between all people,” Smith tells Rolling Stone Country of the new song, which will be the fourth track on Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights. It’s just those sorts of themes that made Smith perfect for TV placements like Sons of Anarchy, where he sang with the Forest Rangers on “Come Join the Murder” for the series finale.
Smith has built the following for the White Buffalo on the back of mostly self-released music since his first album under the name, 2002’s Hogtied Like a Rodeo. The 10-track Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights will be the California native’s first release for indie label Thirty Tigers, and his first full-length since 2015’s Love & the Death of Damnation.