Amer­i­cana

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Polly Coufos

Ten­der­heart Sam Out­law Six Shooter/Cook­ing Vinyl No tourist in Twangsville, Los An­ge­les-based singer-song­writer Sam Out­law un­der­stands the im­por­tance of the raw, un­var­nished truth at the heart of clas­sic coun­try mu­sic. On his sec­ond al­bum the 34-year-old de­liv­ers a gem in­fused with the mu­si­cal history of his adopted city, as well as Nashville, Austin and ev­ery dance hall and honky tonk in be­tween.

Still strad­dling a line some­where be­tween Amer­i­cana and tra­di­tional coun­try, Out­law fol­lows his Ry and Joachim Cooder-pro­duced de­but An­ge­leno with an al­bum that shows the in­flu­ence of so many great coun­try writ­ers and per­form­ers. Along the way he shows him­self to be a unique tal­ent.

The al­bum opens with a big bal­lad, Ev­ery­one’s Look­ing For Home. The stir­ring en­try of Er­win Vasquez and Mari­achi Teocui­tat­lan to­wards the end places the ac­tion on the west coast, set­ting the emo­tional tone for much that fol­lows. The in­flu­ence of 1970s stars such as Jack­son Browne (the rous­ing sin­ga­long beauty of the ti­tle track) and War­ren Zevon (the charm­ing wit of She’s Play­ing Hard to Get (Rid Of)) are clear in the sound and rock-solid crafts­man­ship of his writ­ing, but he also shows a su­perb turn of phrase as he of­fers un­for­get­table lines such as “I would lis­ten to her sto­ries un­til the beer sent me to bed” that would bring a smile to the lips of Randy New­man.

That last line comes from Bougainvil­lea, I Think, as the pro­tag­o­nist tries to piece to­gether a half-for­got­ten mem­ory of a neigh­bour.

Else­where there are char­ac­ters look­ing for love, look­ing for con­nec­tion, look­ing to be­long. All of them are look­ing to feel. Out­law makes them all come alive with the steady and still de­vel­op­ing skill of a mas­ter.

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