Ian Munsick

White Buffalo review | Ian Munsick’s love letter to Wyoming

Ian Munsick pays tribute to his home state on his second album, White Buffalo. Read our review.


Given a bit of space, you’d hope most people could find a middle ground, especially in the US’ least populous state. That’s not to undermine what Wyoming native Ian Munsick has achieved on his excellent new album White Buffalo. It’s an album where he finds nuance in the most unexpected places, right down to his howling-at-the-moon style cover art. 

In this love letter of an album to his home state, where Munsick grew up a few miles from a Native American Reserve, the wolf is replaced with a white buffalo, and it finds meaning.

Once the place is established as the prism through which Munsick’s stories will be told, sat front and centre alongside his beloved fiddle, everything starts to sound fresher.  From his perspective as someone who grew up in a family of ranchers, making a living from the land, even lyrical clichés like “diamond in the rough” on the determined ‘Arrowhead’, and songs with titles like ‘From The Horse’s Mouth’, and ‘River Run’ sound new. 

Ian Munsick White Buffalo

It’s all helped out by Munsick’s well-oiled sense of humour, as is apparent in songs like ‘Barn Burner’ (“she threw a pitchfork through my heart, then her barn burned down”), and ‘Cowshit in the Morning’ (“‘I’d rather smell cowshit in the morning than put up with her bullshit every night”).

The stunning title track is one of the few songs on the album that holds itself back on production, giving itself space to conjure up the vast planes of Wyoming, complete with haunting cowboy yowls and sombre keys. Along with ‘Indian Paintbrush’, an ode to Wyoming’s state flower, it’s a clear call for the protectiveness of his homeland, painting a picture of someone suspicious of outside influences that disturb the traditional way of life.

“All he ever wanted was a simple life out west, somewhere that the bankers hadn’t bought and fenced in yet,” he sings on ‘Field of Dreams’, which features a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Vince Gill, whilst elsewhere he warns that “the range ain’t no place for a Range Rover”

It’s a common badge of honour amongst country musicians to proclaim their connection to the land. While Munsick has far more credibility than many others, the middle ground requires that we take it with a small pinch of salt, given that the music doesn’t always follow suit. The production is often heavy-handed, and songs like the radio-friendly ‘Blazin’’ seem written to delight exactly the kind of Nashville music industry execs who would turn up to the ranch on a Range Rover.

Ian Munsick

Photo: Catherine Powell

This meeting of worlds is particularly apparent in songs like the hit duet ‘Long Live Cowgirls’, where Cody Johnson’s deep, traditional twang sits alongside Munsick’s vocal layering. Still, here the hook is strong enough for it to work. 

Speaking of which, is Chris LeDoux the new red car of country music? Whilst a long-time hero of many, he’s been notably namechecked on several recent releases, including Dierks Bentley’s Gravel & Gold and on ‘Long Live Cowgirls’. Maybe he’s always been around. Now we’re just looking out for him – much like the white buffalo themselves. With advocates like Ian Munsick skilfully telling stories of the land and its sacred place in American culture, we’ll hopefully see them around for some time.

Leave a Reply

More like this