By Maxim Mower
Ian Munsick transports you to the secluded, idyllic mountains of his hometown with a sound as expansive as the plains of Wyoming.
1. From the Horse's Mouth
3. River Run
4. Ranch Hand
5. Neon Brightside
6. Long Live Cowgirls (with Cody Johnson)
7. Barn Burner
9. More Than Me
10. Little Man
11. White Buffalo
13. Cowshit in the Morning
14. Field of Dreams (ft. Vince Gill)
16. Missin’ Her Play
17. Horses & Weed
18. Indian Paintbrush
Since emerging onto listeners’ playlists back in 2017 with the warm, rose-tinted ‘Horses Are Faster’, Wyoming-born Ian Munsick has been a country music outlier. That’s no mean feat in today’s eclectic sea of styles and genres, where positioning oneself outside of the mainstream is now - if you can believe it - the most popular route to country stardom.
Munsick’s sound feels uber-modern while never straying too far from the timeless, fiddle-driven folk music of his rural upbringing. On his latest album, White Buffalo, he transports you to the secluded, idyllic mountains of his home state, with the distant buzz of an electrified metropolis near enough in earshot.
Through a patchwork of vibrant imagery and assorted compositions, Munsick rides through the plains of his hometown on evocative tracks such as ‘Indian Paintbrush’, ‘Arrowhead’ and ‘River Run’.
Along with Wyoming, faith and family stand tall as two other pillars of White Buffalo, with the cleverly constructed ‘Little Man’ serving as an ode to Munsick’s son, while ‘More Than Me’ endearingly flips a classic heartbreak lyric and builds it into a touching, spiritual ballad (“She loves him more than me / And that’s why I love her”).
On Munsick’s previous record, Coyote Cry, he showed flashes of the experimentation and vocal dexterity that he’s become known for, but there were times when the genre-hopping obscured the resonance of his lyrical choices.
On White Buffalo, he is still pushing boundaries and testing new waters, but the project feels much more cohesive, with each new song adding an intricate layer to Munsick’s vivid portrayal of the American West.
Although many of the songs glisten and shimmer with the sheen of his ethereal vocals, the haunting title track is undoubtedly the crown jewel. ‘White Buffalo’ finds Munsick pining for a lost love, likening it to the pursuit of a rare, sacred animal (“I’m sending signals up in smoke / Cause I need help fixing what she broke / I got a better chance I know / Of finding a white buffalo”).
Much of White Buffalo is coloured with a sense of reverence for nature and reflection on bigger-picture themes. However, Munsick isn’t afraid to intersperse these with welcome doses of levity and humour. The tongue-in-cheek ‘Barn Burner’ and the bluntly titled ‘Cowshit in the Morning’ epitomise this; on the latter, Munsick delivers a honky-tonkin’ middle-finger salute to an ex, courtesy of a playful earworm of a hook (“I’d rather smell cowshit in the morning / Than put up with her bullshit every night”).
Cody Johnson and Vince Gill provide rousing features, with Johnson’s deep, weighty vocals combining perfectly with Munsick’s distinctive tenor for the sumptuous slow-burning anthem, ‘Long Live Cowgirls’.
White Buffalo finds Ian Munsick hitting his stride as he takes the listener on a spellbinding sightseeing journey through his home state. Through Munsick’s carefully crafted new project, you can experience the emotional ebbs and flows of the Green River, feel the highs and lows of the Grand Teton and witness the wild, free-spirited euphoria of a band of mustangs riding off into the sunset.
Ian Munsick's 2023 album, White Buffalo, is released April 7th via Warner Music Nashville.
For more country albums being released in 2023 and their release dates, see below: