Sugar Hill Records
Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday – Donna The Buffalo’s tenth studio album – is a fine example of a band continuing to evolve while maintaining a sound and vibe that they basically nailed from the very beginning. If you’re already familiar with Donna The Buffalo’s music, the only thing you need to know is Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday is business as usual, with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Tara Nevins and guitarist/vocalist Jeb Puryear at the core – which is a good thing. And if you’re new to the fold (or, in this case, The Herd) get ready for a lesson in how to shine a little light on things in a very cool manner.
The album kicks off in fine shape with “All Aboard”, a Puryear-penned observation of life and how to live it right, backboned by a churning Mobius strip of fiddle by Nevins. In lesser hands “All Aboard” would come off as preachy; here it’s cool and funky and just enough to make you think while urging you to move something in time to the beat. “All Aboard” indeed – Donna The Buffalo is rolling.
Bassist Kyle Spark and drummer Mark Raudabaugh prove themselves to be a great rhythm team as Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday swings from quasi-surf (“I See How You Are”) to the zydeco/ska hybrid groove of “Love Time” to the windows-down left-arm summer tan of “I Love My Tribe”. The various flavorings are often subtle (again, you never – ever – forget that this is a Donna record) but Raudabaugh and Spark know their stuff when it comes to a fleck of this or a dash of that making the difference.
While both Nevins and Puryear are proven jam leaders on their respective instruments, they often let keyboardist David McCracken take the lead on Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday. Dig the driving groove of the title track: McCracken vacillates between a chugging Tex-Mex-flavored rhythm that Augie Meyers would be proud of and let-it-fly soaring lead breaks that get just a leetle bit wild before snapping back into the fold. Throughout the album, McCracken is always present without ever overplaying – a lesson in taste and talent.
And then you have founding members Nevins and Puryear, proving that their original vision of what this band was all about was THE true and righteous path. There have been talented players who have been part of DTB over the years, but the band’s one-of-a-kind sound has remained immediately recognizable; and you have to figure that it’s Nevins’ and Puryear’s presence that makes the Buffalo be.
Listen and you’ll find Nevins’ instrumental talents all over this thing: there’s plenty of fiddle, acoustic guitar, washboard, and accordion woven through the album’s tracks. (In particular, take note of the cover of Keith Frank’s “Why You Wanna Leave Me” – if there’d been an accordion on Iggy & The Stooges’ Raw Power, it would’ve sounded like this.) There are no obvious Tara or Jeb tunes vibe-wise – the giveaway is usually whoever takes the lead vocal. Nevins sings from the heart without ever getting too heavy; Puryear combines the wisdom and patience of a yogi with the familiar everyman-ness of the guy at the corner gas station. (He even doles out a little bit of soulman on “Working On That”.) And if you love hearing the clean, clean tone of Puryear’s guitar, you’ll find tasty bits sprinkled throughout Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday : the quick and lovely breaks on “No Reason Why” should be jarred and labeled “Cream of Strat”, while his work on “One Day At A Time” combines lead and rhythm in a perfect jangle.
By the time Nevins leads the band through the album-closing “Spinning World” (with the refrain “The world is spinning from the human race”) you know you’ve been somewhere: Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday is an effortless journey of classic Donna The Buffalo thought-provoking, butt-shaking goodness.
Brian Robbins spins over at www.brian-robbins.com