San Francisco-based, Scottish-born multi-talented singer/songwriter, Robert Gillies , was first formally introduced to my readers by way of “20 Indie Love Songs of 2014 (So Far)”, with his heartfelt, piano-based cult hit of a tune, “Here With Me”, earning an honorable mention despite not being released in the year in question. He’s proven time and time again in his debut and sophomoric albums- The Milkhouse Sessions and Astronaut , respectively – that he is a man with a penchant for acoustically-driven soulful tunes that do wonders in terms of conveying themselves in all of their sweet, reflective demeanor to their audience perfectly. The simplistic yet strikingly sincere melodies spread across both albums made a name for Gillies across both his local town of Boston and around the world, with the latter bit thanks to the power of YouTube. Like other songwriters of a similar ilk who had come before him, his third full-sized project is all about setting himself apart sonically from his old material without losing himself in the process. This is far more Volcano Choir than it is Jason Mraz.
To help accentuate this to a tee, Gillies has been working fervently with another independent songwriter and producer who just so happens to be an up-and-coming mega-force on the Los Angeles scene,David Pramik. Together, the duo are called Black Buffalo, and they make nothing short of sweet, sweet, idiosyncratic music. The best pieces of what made Gillies’ past work his own still remain apparent here in the form of an uncomplicated yet affecting rhythmic instrumentation that helps to accentuate the best parts of the vocal, which in itself is something unlike anything Gillies has made a stab at at a professional recording level in his musical past (as far as we know) in that the overall aura in its delivery is much darker than anything he has done in the past. More parts of his technical vocal prowess are uncovered here, too, with him going quite a bit lower than anyone would expect of him based on the tone of his voice.
Again, the instrumentation helps, well… instrumentally, here, in driving this whole production home, it’s ominous collective of instruments and sounds coming together near the song’s end to bring aboutquitethe mysterious building-up. With the clear traditional folk/whiskey-drenched Southern soul influences in mind, this all comes across in a way that is surprisingly commercial, likely in no small part thanks to the production magic of Pramik. The track is earthy, yet well-polished and befitting of being the composition that could have a major hand in elevating both Pramik and Gillies’ careers to greater heights. It’s all a bit of a musical something that one wouldn’t find out-of-place hearing on The Walking Dead , and that — that is a very good thing.
For more on Black Buffalo, make sure to follow the official Twitter page for the duo! Also check out Robert and David’s individual Twitters, here and here. If you’d like to keep up on the latest reviews, interviews, and more, you can also follow me on Twitter!