Time Is A Buffalo In The Art Of War
(2019 - Floating World - UK)
Another jewel drawer of songs from the prolific and forever talented (artist, songwriter, singer, great thinker) Mr. Andy White. Born in Belfast Ireland, he has created well over a dozen solos and this 2019 release is (his 14th studio recording) what some may think of as a part two of his previous album 'The Guilty & The Innocent' (2017). What you can be sure of is this is more gems that range from the most tasteful elements of rock, pop, and ballad, with the voice of Andy at the helm. Rod McVey comes back into the fold (he was part of White's debut album 'Rave On' back in 1986).
I began collecting White's albums back in the 1980's and was drawn in by his collaboration with Liam O Maonlai (lead singer and multi-instrumentalist from Hothouse Flowers), and Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Bros, and solo) in a band called ALT. His style has always reminded me somewhat of Richard Thompson's, with the ability to smoothly go from rock n' roll, to attention getting ballads. He has the same skill level with the songwriting and variety, which he can toss in at a moments notice. He certainly has something important to say each time as well. I met him in Seattle when he brought his then band to play live at a small tavern downtown. It was then I realized how nice a person he was, and how polite and respectful he was to the opening act and their musicians.
'Time Is A Buffalo In The Art Of War' (a title that came in a dream Andy had) opens up with a silky forward moving classic, that instantly has you wanting to either dance or clap your hands (or jump up and get on your instrument and play along). A very Tom Petty type tune. However, the 2nd track ('The Shit Hits The Fan') is a beautiful slow anthem-like ballad, that touches the heart and brings a tear. I am positive that John Lennon would be proud of this. The credits on this record are : Andy White - vocals, guitars, basses/ Rod McVey - piano, Hammond organ, clavinet, accordion, saxophone/ Jonathan Dreyfus - strings/ Sebastian White (Andy's son) - drums/ with special guests: Kelly O'Donohue - brass on Last Train/ and Renn Picard - saxophone on Armageddon #4 and Everyone's Gone to France. Recorded and produced by Andy White/ mixed and mastered by Simon Polinski/ and design by Sebastian White.
Andy has always been a great writer, in both music and lyrics, which obviously translates into fine story telling. Along with that, he brings with him decades of influences, that may present themselves at any time. On 'One In A Million' (track #4) it brings to mind some of what Robbie Robertson (The Band, solo) did in his early solo days. His talent goes high into that plateau where artists like McCartney, Lennon, Tim and Neil Finn, and all those classic savants existed. His music really shines through the same as those better composers. With a perfect balance of sentimental ballads and happy rhythmic tunes that go from the similar style and sound of Dire Straights ('Friday Night' - track #5) or Bob Dylan ('Armageddon #4' - track #8), it is all Andy White, and has a flawless delivery. Whether you hear remnants or echoes of other greats or not, 'Fire Engines Blue Trains and Trucks' is as deeply moving and sadly real as can be. There lies that balance I spoke of before. And again, John Lennon's face may well appear in your mind. Beautiful strings included and another tearjerker.
'Fly If You Want To' (track #7) will thrill those Crowded House fans. Each song on the album has its special place. Andy is comfortable and accomplished at so many styles, with folk, country, and blues added to the plate, and anything in between pop and rock. He moved to Australia years ago, and it appears he is better off for it. Music lovers are too. Andy describes this album as 'the big picture'. Pull up a chair and enjoy this tremendous offering. VERY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 11 - 17 - 2019