by Sean Jewell ::
Jesus, take the wheel, and drive me to The Tractor Tavern on Sunday night. Local country acts Ole Tinder and Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer are supporting LA cowboy Sam Outlaw, and it’s gonna be one hell of a show.
Sam seemed to come out of nowhere earlier this year. He recorded his first album Angelenos in Southern California with some production help from roots music mavens Ry and Joachim Cooder. He’s recently made appearances in LA Times and The New Yorker premiering his videos for the singles “Love Her For A While” and “Who Do You Think You Are.” Sam’s sound is traditional country, and lots of 3/4 time songs, waltzes, and pedal steel dominate Angelenos. Despite growing up in one of America’s more metropolitan cities, Sam’s heart is somehow countrypolitan, and its beats echo the great sounds of Nashville‘s country music heyday. On the title track Sam is backed by nostalgic-sounding strings and horns echoing an admiration for the sound like his contemporary Andrew Combs. On songs like “Country Love Song” and “I’m Not Jealous” Sam somehow achieves a sophisticated pop country sound without veering off into the dreaded adult contemporary category. “Ghost Town” achieves the haunting personal feel of a young Ryan Adams exploring country music with the great Whiskeytown. Then there’s the George Jones-ish “Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar).”
Among the rocking, raw, country guitars of Ole Tinder, and the pick-perfect, precise honky tonkin of Cahalen Morrison, Sam Outlaw is going to feel right at home.
Oh, and “Outlaw” is actually his mother’s maiden name, but that counts from where I’m standing goddammit.