Buffalo Rose’s ‘Borrowed and Blue: Live Around One Microphone’ Breathes New Life Into Past Songs
Buffalo Rose is a soulfully folk-leaning sextet hailing from Pittsburgh, whose music I would liken to a sunny summer afternoon. Their upbeat, foot stomping, bluegrass-esque rhythm section, paired with perfectly blended harmonies, feels like a breath of fresh air. Their latest project, Borrowed and Blue: Live Around One Microphone, is a testament to that.
Recorded at the Unity Center of Pittsburgh, each of these songs was performed to perfection in a single take with only one mic, old school style. If the pure and undeniable talent it takes to pull this off isn’t enough, the cover songs that commence and conclude the project most certainly will. Madonna’s 1983 hit, “Borderline”, as well as a mashup of “Seven Nation Army” (The White Stripes) and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics are given the folk treatment. Both covers are cleverly arranged with tasteful solos, tight harmonies, and vocals clearer than the Pittsburgh skyline during a stay-at-home order.
The group also shares four of their own compositions, which showcase their immense songwriting talent in addition to a mastery of their instruments. Though all of the originals on Borrowed and Blue have been released on previous records, the group finds many ways to breathe new life into them.
The 2019 hip-swinger, “Rocketship,” is delivered in a warmer and more energetic fashion than the studio version, in my humble opinion. This was definitely a pleasant surprise; a true sign of growth and progress, always respected and appreciated. The genesis of the group, “Momma Have Mercy,” from their 2016 debut project, is next up. This was the first song that the band (at the time) worked on together, and it is still standing strong through time. It’s an iconic tune that I hope stays on the setlist for a long while.
“The Journey” can be found on their 2018 full album. Impressively enough, the energy of the studio album is perfectly matched in this stripped-back version, making for another great adaptation by this group. The final throwback is also from the aforementioned 2016 project, “Cigarettes and Whiskey.” This song has always rung like a classic folk/country ballad. It’s a tune I imagine singing and swaying to late night in a bar somewhere on the edge of town. Yet again, Buffalo Rose captures this magic perfectly with their live interpretation.
This album is, in some ways, one of Buffalo Rose’s best pieces of work. Aside from achieving a superior level of quality in a couple live takes, many of the songs seem to have a matured with age, like a fine wine (which would be a great pairing with this record).
Buffalo Rose is a band that clearly cares about their work, and for that, I applaud them. Enjoy Borrowed and Blue: Live Around One Microphone below!