The Future of 21st Century Country Music?
Coupled with being on the awesome Thirty Tigers record label and having a name like Sam Outlaw; I was always going to be interested, wasn’t I?
Well; without giving away any surprise endings this album will more than likely feature in my Top Ten albums of 2016!
The album opens with the sweet; but never saccharine Who Do You Think You Are? Sounding a bit like Brad Paisley singing a Kris Kristofferson song and supported by the Mavericks. Honestly. Outlaw has a distinctively soft voice and the band behind him are A1 to the max.
In 2014 Sturgill Simpson stole our hearts with his take on the ‘Bakersfield sound’ and with songs like Ghost Town and It Might Kill Me Outlaw takes that baton and leaves everyone else in his dust.
I’ve been playing this album for a couple of weeks now; not just in the car (although that was my primary source and a place where these songs turned wet and windy British motorways into dusty Mid-Western back-roads) but also in the home as cool background music while reading and putting together things for the website.
Growing up listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys and Everly Brothers before discovering Country music, Sam’s influences come across in the beautiful Love Her For a While and Country Love Song.
But it’s the authentic Country ‘twang’ that makes Outlaw stand out from the crowd; especially on the heartbreaking title track Angeleno; which not just has a pedal-steel and Mariachi guitars accompanying the sweetest voice this side of Roy Orbison; but a string section stolen from latter-day Buddy Holly.
As always I have to point you to my ‘favourite’ song; and it’s a straight fight between Jesus Take The Wheel (and Drive me To a Bar); which somehow sounds like Toby Keith singing a George Jones song and the awe-inspiring I’m Not Jealous, and I’m plumping for the latter.
Cheating songs are a staple of Country music; but this one is especially well written and will break hearts, left, right and centre especially the chorus that goes ‘I’m not jealous of them/I’m embarrassed for you.’ Honestly; in the hands of Brad, Tim or George this would be a shoe in for Country Song of the Year.
Another ‘secret’ here, is the inclusion of father and son Ry and Joachim Cooder in a band that includes members of the Punch Brothers, Dawes and My Morning Jacket.
The native of South California formally known as Sam Morgan, has come out of nowhere with this album; but will surely hog both the AMA and CMA Award Ceremonies as the year progresses.
Released UK January 15th 2016
Released US October 2015