Milwaukee, WI-based Buffalo Nichols today released his new original single ‘Love Is All’ previewing his anticipated album ‘The Fatalist’ due out 15th September via Fat Possum. Anchored by a mesmerizing blues arpeggio that floats over a minimal, driving rhythm, the evocative modern protest song proudly declares ‘Love Is All.’ “In our society the bar is set very low for what is deemed acceptable behavior for men,” says Nichols. “It is socially acceptable to be cruel and place financial gain over human kindness so I believe loving and treating someone with respect, fairness and kindness is one of the most powerful things one can do. Choosing spiritual love over material love. There is also a theme of the unfamiliarity of pure and real love as many of us grow up having never experienced or witnessed it.” 


‘Love Is All’ follows the album’s lead single ‘You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond‘, a cover of Blind Willie Johnson. Currently on a summer-long tour across the U.S., Nichols will perform at London’s Rough Trade East on 28th August (TICKETS).

On his self-produced second album, Nichols does things with the blues that might catch you off guard. There’s 808 programming, chopped-up samples, washes of synth. There’s a consideration of the fullness of the sonic stage and the atmospherics of blues music that can only come with a long engagement with electronic music. But this is no gimmicky hybrid or attempt to turn the blues into 21st-century music by simply dressing it with skittering hi-hats. Nichols’ vision for the blues is of a form of music that’s intimately tied to everyday life in 2023, something that’s reflected not only in the choice of instrumentation, but in the complexities of the songwriting and the grey areas his lyrics explore. This is music that comes straight from the present, and as such, it’s a reminder that the same shit that drove the first blues singers to pick up a guitar is still present behind the throbs of deep bass hits today.

Of course, Nichols’ songwriting has always been firmly rooted in the present. He proved he could succeed on the music industry’s own blues terms on his self-titled 2021 debut, whose songs, Bandcamp Daily said, “seem to flow from some great repository of emotion and insight.” ‘The Fatalist’ finds him digging deeper in search of answers to ever-more-complicated questions around responsibility and self-definition, his plainspoken lyrics both cutting and refreshing in their sincerity and refusal to accept pat solutions. Still, Nichols rarely sounds like a blues singer. Like Leonard Cohen, he dominates these songs with his voice. His low, guttural baritone is high in the mix, and he sounds coiled, clenched tight.

The slow drip of his songwriting lends ‘The Fatalist’ an incredible amount of drama, which the production, at times dark and dewy and claustrophobic, at times zippy with light, further emphasises. That personal touch is evident in how considerately these songs have been framed. “In a lot of ways I was improvising,” he says, and he leaned on his years of experience as a DIY musician -and the songs themselves -to guide him. “Drum machines are a 50-year-old technology. If the blues hadn’t been hijacked and trapped in amber, I think they naturally would’ve been incorporated.” The drum programming throughout feels like a natural rhythmic vehicle for these songs. “When you pick up a guitar, the first thing you’re gonna play is the blues,” he says. “And when you pick up an 808, you’re gonna start doing trap beats.

The stakes throughout this album are largely personal, rather than social; Nichols is singing about his life in the first person and about his desire to forge his own individuality in a world and a music industry that make it nearly impossible to do so. Ringing through ‘The Fatalist Blues, and ‘The Fatalist,’ is a simple question: Do I have any say in how things are going to go? It’s the question behind so much of the physical and psychic pain in the blues, and in a frustrating age that preaches self-empowerment and shames the disenfranchised, it’s a stridently modern question, too. By playing his music the way he wants to play it, by refusing to give up his creative control or accept anyone else’s definition of the blues or indeed his own life, Nichols has tried to forge an answer. Does he have any say in how things are going to go? Let’s find out.


‘The Fatalist’ LP tracklist:

1. Cold Black Stare

2. You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond

3. Love Is All

4. Turn Another Stone

5. The Difference

6. The Long Journey Home

7. The Fatalist Blues

8. This Moment (feat. Samantha Rise)

Buffalo Nichols tour dates

06/09 – Flagstaff, AZ – Flagstaff Blues Fest

06/10 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress

06/11 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge

06/15 – Philadelphia, PA – Milkboy

06/16 – Philadelphia, PA – WXPN Free at Noon

06/16 – Monkton, MD – The Loft at Manor Mill

06/17 – Bowie, MD – Juneteenth Jubilee

06/17 – Columbia, MD – Columbia Fest for the Arts

06/18 – Berryville, VA – Barns of Rose Hill

06/19 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe

06/23 – Des Moines, IA – Des Moines Arts Festival

06/24 – Madison, WI – Memorial Union Terrace at Univ of Wisconsin

06/29 – Hamilton, OH – Riversedge Amphitheater

06/30 – Memphis, TN – Overton Park

07/06-08 – Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Fest

07/20 – San Francisco, CA – SF Jazz Summer Fest

07/21-22 – Marquette, MI – Hiawatha Music Festival

07/27-30 – Calgary, AB – Calgary Folk Fest

08/10 – Fort Collins, CO – Bohemian Foundation

08/12 – Cheyenne, WY – Cheyenne Arts Celebration

08/18 – Roxbury, NY – Roxbury ARts Center

08/19 – Portsmouth, NH – The Music Hall – Live Under the Arch Series

08/24-27 – Tønder, DK – Tønder Festival

08/28 – London, UK – Rough Trade East

09/06 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop

09/07 – Newport, KY – Southgate House

09/08 – Louisville, KY – Zanzabar

09/09 – Bowling Green. OH – Black Swamp Arts Festival

09/14 – Denver, CO – Levitt Pavilion

09/15-17 – Telluride Blues & Brews

09/20 – Elkton, MD – Elkton Music Hall

09/21 – Southampton, PA – Stone Turtle House Concert

09/22 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

09/23 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine

09/24 – North Adams, MA – Freshgrass

10/05 – Madison, WI – High Noon

10/06 – Chicago, IL – Sleeping Village

10/07 – Minneapolis, MN – Turf Club

10/12 – Grand Rapids, MI – Midtown

10/13 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern

10/14 – Jackson, MI – Jackson Symphony Orchestra

10/15 – Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe – WCBE Happy Hour

10/18 – Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Iron Works

10/19 – Rochester, NY – Abilene Bar & Lounge

10/20 – Providence, RI – Askew

10/21 – Portland, ME – One Longfellow

10/22 – Waterbury Center, VT – Zenbarn

11/10 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall

11/13 – Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern

11/14 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios

11/15 – Eugene, OR – Hult Center

11/16 – Grass Valley, CA – Grass Valley Center for the Arts

11/17 – Livermore, CA – Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center

11/18 – Los Angeles, CA – Gold Diggers

11/29 – Charlotte, NC – Snug Harbor

11/30 – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle

12/01 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl

12/02 – Nashville, TN – Blue Room

12/03 – Memphis, TN – B-Side / Folk All Y’all

12/05 – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern

12/06 – Dallas, TX – Sundown at Granada

12/07 – San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint

12/08 – Austin, TX – Antone’s

12/09 – Houston, TX – Continental Club

12/15 – Waverly, AL – Standard Deluxe

12/16 – Macon, GA – Society Garden






Previous article
Next article

More From Author




Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day