Turn Left at Janis, Then Right at Lucinda and Go Straight Past Loretta.
How do they do it? Bloodshot Records I mean. They keep finding acts that I just need to listen to.
On the album cover Sarah Shook from North Carolina has the look of the only girl at school who had both the Clash and Johnny Cash albums and knew all the words too.
The quaintly titled Keep The Home Fires Burning is a raw slice of Country with a Rockabilly beat, and Sarah sounding just the right side of angry, sings as if she’s defying the listener not to like her. But if like me you know the really ‘good stuff’ doesn’t come out of those shiny building in Nashville you will like it; despite her sneer.
Sarah Shook doesn’t look old enough to have had all of the heartbreak that she writes and sings about but that’s the joy as she has one helluva imagination as expressed in the fiery No Name and later in Solitary Confinement when she sounds like Patsy Cline on steroids, “drinking him off her mind!”
Bloodshot used to describe itself as the ‘Home of Insurgent Country’ and boy does this young lady live up to that billing on songs like Nothin’ Feels Right Like Doing Wrong and the Punky Country Rock of Misery Without Company; and I love the way the rebellious singer is going to Make It Up To Mama by getting another ‘heart tattoo’!
As a man of a certain age I don’t normally like profanity in music; but the way Sarah describes her life – she could be the offspring of a late night relationship between Janis and George Jones; Fuck Up is the only title imaginable; and I’m pretty damn sure it will be the sing-along highlight of their concerts.
Highlights are too many to list but I will give you two songs as my favourites; the title track Sidelong is as dark a Country song as I’ve heard in years, with Snook sounding on the verge of tears at times on a wonderful piece of writing.
The other is along a similar dark romantic path; but Dwight Yoakam is about that period when that relationship is just about still hanging by a thread; “I’m drinking water tonight cuz I drank all the whiskey this morning” (“Dwight Yoakam”) pretty damn fine writing in my opinion.
Many years ago there used to be a band on Bloodshot with leather jackets, tattoos and quiffs called the Riptones who opened the Rockabilly door for me. They took what the Stray Cats did, but stripped it back to the bone and added kerosene……and now Sarah Shook and the Disarmers have taken up that mantel with a vengeance; and I can’t wait to see them play live in a hot and sweaty club.
Released April 28th 2017