Reviews

Sam Outlaw Angeleno

SamOutlaw
Sam Outlaw Angeleno

By Jake Tully

There’s a need for country and western music that follows a systematic approach to record making. Much like the moral code of the West that unifies both do-gooders and desperados alike, every now and then it serves us well to have the classic formula on record for listeners and performers to draw from. Enter Sam Outlaw, a performer who draws from the well of our (mostly late) greats, while still maintaining a prickly enough approach that we enticed time and time again. Certainly no slouch at his craft, his latest Angeleno is a well-curated ode to early 70’s country classics that still runs in the vein of redefining contemporary California country.

SamOutlaw-AngelenoWith Angeleno Sam Outlaw makes some truly splendid choices throughout. Opening with the Tex-Mex inspired “Who Do You Think You Are” the course of the album is set forth in a zeitgeist-bending and freewheeling romp, complete with Spanish horns and a bolero hanging on for dear life. The classically dour “Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar)” exemplifies the drenched to your spine sort of loneliness; “Love Her For A While” proffers some sort of retribution for the sin of existence. The titular track is one of particular note – a kiss off to the strict definition of one’s style and embracing the cultural latitudes that California has to offer.

It should be noted that Angeleno has an impressive list of musicians lending their talent alongside Outlaw. Most notably on the list is none other than Ry Cooder himself, playing lead guitar and serving as co-producer. The record also sees contributions from Punch Brothers and My Morning Jacket alums, a geographical cross-pollination of the highest pedigree. Simply by virtue of Outlaw working with musicians who have refused to confine themselves to the sound of their statehood borders, he has crafted a treatise of multiculturalism in a most ingenious way.

Of course, Outlaw’s lofty ambitions don’t muddle the simplicity of lust, booze and survival on what is a fine country record. It’s just as easy to read into the eloquence of Angeleno as it is to dial it back and listen to 12 tracks as the beer settles in your stomach on a hot Los Angeles afternoon. It’s familiar, yet intelligent. Outlaw knows how to keep the old fashioned folks happy and work alongside his contemporaries to produce something alternative. It ain’t easy to mind your manners and please yourself – good thing Outlaw shows us the way.

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TJ Admin

It’s Gonzo Journalism meets Outlaw Country as TJ Music Magazine – Turnstyled, Junkpiled shakes things up in the Sin City and beyond. “Waiting for the day when they stop calling it Americana and start calling it Country again.”
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