Smitten (Beggars Banquet)
by Jamie Kiffel
Acoustic-strummed stray dogs, flower-warped stone and secret societies make sweet poesy of dim New England introspections in Buffalo Tom‘s sixth release, Smitten. Thoughts move with the unpredictability of Boston weather, slipping among sprinklings of clichés the occasional weird, brilliant micro-revelation that stuns with its newness. We learn about the man who “measured his breath as he pocketed his pride,” watching life go by from “register side” (a nod to the dismissed sages of the industrial age); a sweet fiend who claims “It’s only the Bible… so leave your soul to me,” and the pretty pain of withered love with “rain that brings the lonely August night.” With heartstring lyrics stretched across rhythmy, easy guitar rock, the disc plays as a magnifier on self revelation, emotionally-enhanced with pianos and violins. Honest drums and wide-open harmonies make Smitten a full-faced celebration of the pain of being, full of the energy of a weather-warped face that wears its scars rough and large, stolid marks of life’s triumph in the presence of Death. With all its interested fingering around the frayed, purple edges of life’s bodywounds, this disc does not wear a dark, shadowy shawl but a nettle-torn overcoat, natty and calloused, toughened from the war of just being. Smitten examines the beauty of the damage.
(580 Broadway #1004 New York, NY 10012)