Buffalo Blood may be a new name on the music scene, but they are made up of a group of well respected and loved musicians; comprising of three quarters of The Orphan Brigade (Neilson Hubbard, Joshua Britt and Audrey Spillman), along with renowned Scottish singer Dean Owens.

The album was recorded in New Mexico, and the songs are organically tied in theme and sound to that area. The recording was completed in a two week burst of activity amid the spectacular landscapes of the area’s canyons and deserts with the four members mixing the local influences, with what each individual can bring to the table.

Hence, at times we hear Native American chants and whistles, Nashville vibes and Scottish folk. The weird thing about the album is that it works beautifully!  Neilson Hubbard, also in the producer’s chair keeps the sound clear and uncomplicated as if to mirror the simpler way of life being eulogised here. There are big questions too. Is one way of life to be seen as more valued than another?  With obvious parallels to the migrant situation and Trump’s wall, the album queries why any culture should set itself above another?

There are no easy answers to be found, but a lot of great music in the questioning. The repeated ‘I’m Alive’ chant in the eponymous title song is no longer merely a line in a song, but a defiant mantra of the indigenous people and a clarion call for survival. ‘Vanishing World’ continues the theme of determination to protect a way of life endangered by others. Defiance, also in the stirring ‘Comanche Moon’, while gentler voices and melodies reign in the lovely ‘Daughter Of The Sun’ and ‘White River’.

Dean Owens following on from his fine ‘Southern Wind’ album shows why he is regarded as one of Scotland’s finest on a set that allows others to take the lead too. Indeed, one of the few criticisms I could aim at the album is that it could have done with more of the beautiful voice of Audrey Spillman.

Whether Buffalo Blood remain an ongoing entity remains to be seen given Owens’ ascending position on the scene and the others ongoing participation in their other projects; a third Orphan Brigade album is planned for recording in the spring.  However, on the evidence of this very fine album and, should they choose to do so, Buffalo Blood could roam and roam.

Buffalo Blood will perform a special launch show in Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre on 25th January 2019 as part of the Celtic Connections Festival with the album going on general release on 15th February 2019 via Eel Pie Records

£1 from every vinyl sale goes to Redhawk Native American Arts Council.