Flyinshoes Review

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SAM OUTLAW —TENDERHEART (Six Shooter Records – Thirty Tigers)

 

www.samoutlaw.com

 

Sam Outlaw is one of the exciting new names on the Americana county scene, a young man who is not only helping bring in a new younger audience but also gaining acceptance from those into traditional country music. He is a rare talent, a real stylist.

Supported by Molly Jenson (harmony vocals), Darla Hawn (drums), Jeremy Long (pedal steel guitar, organ) Daniel Rhine (upright, electric bass), Bo Koster (wurlitzer, Rhodes, piano), Danny Garcia (most of the ‘mellow’ electric guitar) and Brad Lindsay (most of the ‘rock’ electric guitar) plus a guest or two.

What struck me is how he eases into a song, and in little or no time has the listener tucked in alongside him. Walking the same stride and soaking in all of the nuances and deft twists he likes to introduce. Like how he utilises pedal steel on “Look At You Now”. It isn’t flashy or over bearing, just sufficient deft touches to add flavour. In all honesty on listening to the first two or three tracks I wasn’t sure whether Outlaw wasn’t going to be flash in the pan. It was only then I recalled it took me a few plays to become accustomed and avid fan of his previous album, Angeleno (2015), also the second half on the album is superior to the first!

 

Jaunty ode “Dry In The Sun” offers a feel good ambiance. A song set to have you throw off your worries and enjoy the moment. In turn it is followed by the warm swagger of light ’n’ breezy pop country ode “Now She Tells Me”(nice steel guitar). When it comes to heart-tugging ballads “Diamond Ring” hits home, and hard, as he pulls the listener like a fisherman his catch ever closer to him. Wistful, graceful and hypnotic “Bougainvillea, I Think” has him speak of a lady from long ago from the borders. As for the title-track, “Tenderheart” is ok, but it does not stop me in my tracks. Certainly not of the same mould or owner the same dynamics as the hooky “Trouble”. Here is a crowd-pleaser it there ever was one. More mainstream than gritty singer-songwriter fare but the thing about Sam Outlaw his music crosses boundaries without the need to stop at checkpoints to have his credentials looked over. “She’s Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of)” has effective organ, and pedal steel guitar plus harmony vocals help guide him. This as he works on ditching a former love and it isn’t the most happy situation. But, hey you do have two happy people on “Two Broken Hearts” (that go missing as the two of them get together). Needless to say it contains some fine pedal steel. The most appealing song on the album could well be the terrific “All My Life”. More like it would most certainly have helped make the album match up to his debut record, if not better it! Love the work of Long on his usual pedal steel, and electric guitar, and with Outlaw letting his imagination go wild, lyrically, he hits the jackpot! Don't be shocked it you still have this album among you favourite listens five years from now. 

 

                                                             Maurice Hope                

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
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HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
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RM
25
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32 pts.
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AL
 
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