With the release of Angeleno, Sam Outlaw can rest easy knowing that he made the right decision to leave his day job (Outlaw was a former ad man). Produced by Ry Cooder and his son Joachim (who also played drums on the project), Angeleno is a record influenced by California and sounds across the board. It includes twelve tracks all penned by Outlaw himself, who assembled all-star guests to lend their talents, including Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Gabe Wincher (The Punch Brothers), and Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket).
The songs on Angeleno deal with life and love and are filled with pedal steel, organ, fiddle, banjo and more. Outlaw’s light as air vocals, Molly Jensen’s harmonies and the album’s overall production make for a record with a laid back vibe with songs that still pack the proverbial emotional punch.
The Mexican flair of mariachis, strings and horns kick off the record with “Who Do You Think You Are,” a song about love found and then lost, as well as on the title track which reflects on a life with one’s true love.
“Keep It Interesting,” about preventing love from getting stale, is filled with fiddle as well as beautiful harmonies, while the simple acoustic strumming of “Country Love Song” effectively conveys the love he feels for the girl he left to chase his musical dreams.
Keys and pedal steel shine on “I’m Not Jealous” which tells the story of a not so faithful female who might be acting like a fool, but he doesn’t let it bother him; he’s not jealous, he’s embarrassed for her, while “It Might Kill Me” deals with the dark days after a relationship ends.
The humorous “Jesus Take the Wheel” (And Drive Me To A Bar) takes a look at a man at his lowest, drowning his sorrows at a bar, asking Jesus to guide him safely. “I’m gonna do some drinking so you should probably steer/I’m counting on you Jesus take the wheel.”
Personal favorite, “Keep A Close Eye On Me” has an emotionally charged melody that, accompanied by the vocals, moves you at your core; as does the more up-tempo “Ghost Town” which relates the story of the dissolution of a family. The emotional, thoughtful “Old Fashioned” and massively catchy “Hole Down In My Heart” round out the record.
California has a long history with country music which Outlaw continues, while at the same time helping to usher in a new era. Add Angeleno to the growing list of “Best Albums of 2015".......a place where he should find himself quite often at year’s end.
NB make sure to catch Outlaw when he comes near you. He and his band are incredibly talented, funny and engaging.
Guitarist Mike Carpenter calls Uncle Lucius’ music “Southern rock for the thinking man. Rock ‘n’ Roll for the soul.” And that, quite frankly, could not be a more perfect description. Their new release, The Light, recorded at Austin’s Treefort Studios with producer George Reiff is set to release on June 9th via Boo Clap/Thirty Tigers. The record contains twelve tracks that supply grooves a plenty; it’s soulful, thoughtful southern rock at its best.
The message of the record is heard clearly on the initial track, “The Light.” Its scaled back introduction segues into a rootsy, bluesy melody accompanied by positive affirmation. “Let it go and flow, to grow and know from the inside out.” Calling one to look within to realize and rediscover where that light, power, and change emanates from and choosing to act with intention rather than reaction.
Horn infused “Age of Reason,” with its almost military-like percussive interlude, stresses that “how we’re different may never mean as much as how we’re kin” reminding us that we have all similar beginnings. The spritely piano and guitar are central on “Don’t Own The Right” about passing judgement, especially when we hold others to standards we may not hold ourselves to. “Some cats I know let their habits show, where they stand they can’t seem to get enough/I ain’t passing judgement I don’t own the right.”
“Taking In The View,” with its peaceful, reflective introduction (and psychedelic fiddle bridge) is inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell. The song’s characters are from the Bible, yet portrayed in current time, contemplating their later years. Slowing down and being appreciative for life is the theme of “No Time Flat” in which he remarks that the “journey itself become reason for living,” while “Wheel’s In Motion” centers on those situations where we give up control over our actions.
Instantly addictive, the piano laden, pulsating, funky “Ouroboros” deals with holding your head up high and “walking like your feet could never fail,” while the thumping “Flood Then Fade Away” gives sound advice on dealing with your fears. “The only way around is to go into it straight feelin’ with you senses, let it flood then fade away.”
The theme of travel is also evident on the record. “End of 118,” is that place you can go, without your possessions, and be free while “Gulf Coast Gypsies” talks about the need to be on the road. “Someday Is A Far Cry,” which closes the record, echoes the sentiments heard at the beginning. “Letting go has made me lighter/I was trying to catch a fire.”
The Light is a record whose songs, both melodies and lyrics, are beautifully and thoughtfully constructed. The record is optimistic, appreciative, introspective, reflective and forward thinking, but never preachy. It simply tells honest truths that sometimes we all need to be reminded of while giving food for thought. It’s the quest to better oneself, to let go and follow one’s heart. Uncle Lucius seems to be doing just that and The Light is an inspiring record of which they should most certainly be proud.
Known throughout Texas, Courtney Patton has a voice that is easily identifiable and easily embraced. That voice--warm, strong and enveloping--is the instrument utilized to its fullest in her latest release, So This Is Life. Due June 9th, the album, an exquisite and complete listen is comprised of twelve original story songs that under the production of Drew Kennedy, are beautiful and simple, scaled back and gracious. Fiddle and pedal steel play prominently throughout, but never overshadow Patton’s full vocals, allowing them to convey every ounce of honest emotion, whether heartache or happiness, in every vignette, to the listener.
Patton has the ability to channel grief, hurting and desolation so honestly, so perfectly, that the stories consistently elicit strong emotions. Preparations for a night out are interrupted in “Little Black Dress” where the heavy hearted feel of the fiddle is compounded when she sings: “She walks to greet him and he tells her he’s leaving and with a red face she's left all alone"/She don’t like to follow and pride’s hard to swallow when your throat’s all filled up with stones.” A tear, or twenty, will be shed on both “To Battle These Blues” and “Where I’ve Been.” The former is about the depression and disappointment that accompany heartbreak, especially during those dark hours. “I don’t need much, I’ve survived on less/But I’m worth a little if I ain’t worth the best./I gave you my heart and the rest is all up to you.” While in the latter, written by husband Jason Eady, she laments not getting the love she needs from the man who has become a stranger. “If you ever decide that you ever wanna try again, well I’ll be here in the morning just don’t ask me where I’ve been.”
Loneliness permeates “Need For Wanting” while “Her Next Move” leaves one empathetic to both parties as he waits for her to leave knowing “she wanted more than he could ever give.” Ripe for dancing the melody of “Killing Time” differs from the sentiment of the lyrics about a dishonest man. “You don’t have to admit you hurt me, I can see it in your eyes/You were good at spending that money not good at spinning lies/So you count your days paying for your ways locked up and killing time.”
The pull of work and home life is found in the pedal steel and percussive cadence of the rootsy “War of Art.” It provides a lesson for us all about that inner war that can, in a sense, take our life, and instead of losing yourself and settling, chose to live, honor yourself and forge ahead. “I’m gonna go against what was planned/I know you may not understand but I’d rather do it now than rust or rot/My passion is a cancer and I can’t cure it or find the answer ‘til I go and give it all I’ve got/So I’m gonna go and give it all I got.”
While those words strike a chord, it is the title track where the vividness of the lyrics is so real, it’s frightening. Detailing marriage and the life of a stay at home mom whose dreams, and herself really, got lost in a fairy tale that wasn’t, “So This Is Life” concludes that “this is life when losing is winning/when you see a new beginning in the form of goodbye.” It’s simultaneously agonizing and hopeful.
As life consists of a myriad of emotions, Patton makes sure that all is not somber. The tempo remains slow, but things turn brighter on the autobiographical “Twelve Days” detailing what a wife does when he is away on the road noting that “your side of bed seems to hate that I’m alone;” content on “Sure Am Glad” and reflective, loving and peaceful on “Maybe It’s You.”
The album closes with “But I Did” in which she sincerely and thoughtfully relates how she is like her parents, but also a dreamer who “found freedom in melody,” concluding with absolute honesty: “I don’t really know what I’m doing.” It’s a positive affirmation that can be universally understood: in life, we are all just trying to do our best.
So This Is Life is a realistic look, from a female perspective, at the twisting turning roads of life, detailing heartbreak, but also celebrating love and never losing sight of one’s self-for that is what can make a life one that is indeed lived. Simply beautiful, even when it is sad, So This Is Life is a treasure, one of the best records of the year so far.
For more information and to purchase So This Is Life, visit here
The debut EP from Texas singer-songwriter Daniel Lynn has that sound, the one that I love-the one that successfully blends Roots Rock, Country and Americana. Heaven From Texas consists of four tracks that after one listen, you’ll listen to again…and wish for more. The well written tracks kick off with the mid-tempo “Just For The Moment” then segues into the rough and tumble feel of “What I Know” in which he tells you of the sounds that shaped him from “Petty to the Possum.” Personal favorite “Three Weeks” is a rollicking tune, the type where you find yourself tapping your toes and nodding your head at the same time. It’s an earworm….but in a great way! The EP closes with “Heaven From Texas,” about the daily struggles to be a good person, finding the closest thing to heaven he knows in a special someone.
Heaven From Texas…..definitely give it a listen.
Purchase the EP here
The Whiskey Charmers more than live up to their name on their March 7th self-titled release. The collection of songs, all penned by vocalist Carrie Shepard, except for “C Blues” which she wrote with guitarist Lawrence Daversa, are quite enthralling. Daversa’s mood setting, and skilled, guitar playing alongside Shepard’s quite captivating vocals are a successful pairing whether on the folky “Neon Motel Room,” the bluesy “C Blues” or rootsy “Can’t Leave.” Lead-off track “Elevator” finds Shepard’s soft vocals reminiscent of Natalie Merchant while “Vampire’s” introductory guitar licks set up a smoky, sultry, slightly ominous feel. The Gothic feel of “Straight & Narrow” finds her quietly declaring “Gonna stay on the righteous path/Gonna stay away from loves arrow’s/Gonna take my life back,” with “Waltz” closing out the album with a more traditional country flavor.
Gather your glass, a good chair, get comfortable and settle in with The Whiskey Charmers.