× Buffalo Nichols takes "The Fatalist" to Europe

Buffalo Nichols takes "The Fatalist" to Europe


On his second album, The Fatalist, Buffalo Nichols does things with the blues that might catch you off guard. There’s 808 programming, chopped up Charley Patton samples, washes of synth. There’s a consideration of the fullness of the sonic stage and the atmospherics of the 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 gray 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. The Fatalist sounds unlike any blues record you’re likely to hear in 2023.

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.

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, Carl Nichols has tried to forge an answer. Does he have any say in how things are going to go? Let’s find out:

01/25: Brighton, UK - The Prince Albert
01/26 : Newcastle, UK - The Cluny 2
01/27: Glasgow, UK - Celtic Connections
01/28: Edinburgh, UK - Sneaky Pete's
01/30: London, UK - The Lexington
01/31: Herent, BE - GC De Wildeman
02/01: Utrecht, NL - TivoliVredenburg
02/02: Groningen, NL - Der Aa-Theater
02/03: Hengelo, NL - Metropool
02/04: Rotterdam, NL - De Doelen
02/05: Eindhoven, NL - Americana Mondays

Related artist: Buffalo Nichols back