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Sam Outlaw – Tenderheart album review

The rising star is reminding us of the true meaning of Country music.

Sam Outlaw
Credit: Six Shooter Records
Sam Outlaw - Tenderheart

Credit: Six Shooter Records

Singer-songwriter Sam Outlaw decided to leave a successful advertising career to follow his true passion after turning 30. With a self-titled EP and a critically acclaimed album, Angeleno, under his belt it’s clear that Sam made the right decision. Earlier this year Sam picked up International Album of the Year at the UK Americana Awards, further cementing his position as a rising star. Now Sam is releasing his second album Tenderheart, which arrives almost two years after his debut Angeleno.

Tenderheart was previewed by Sam at Oslo in Hackney last month and it received a very warm reception from the crowd. The album is a collection of 13 songs that stay true to Sam’s roots but also push him sonically into some new ground. The album opens with the downtempo Everyone’s Looking For Home, an autobiographical tale that recounts the whirlwind life Sam has led over the past two years since the release of Angeleno. The track is captivating and a reminder of Sam’s strength as a songwriter; his honesty.

Things get a little lighter on the second track, Bottomless Mimosas, as Sam explores the brunch culture that exists in Los Angeles. Having lived in Southern California for much of his life, Sam’s observations are astute and poignant. The soaring melodies in the song are gorgeous to listen to and mark the song out as an early standout on the record.

Sam switches the tempo on the rockier Trouble and it’s a sound that really suits him. The song has a catchy chorus, a steady beat and a great vocal from Sam. Another uptempo moment comes on the traditional Country of All My Life, where Sam really showcases his chemistry with harmony vocalist Molly Jenson. The harmonies are tight and they drive the song through its perky instrumentation.

Elsewhere on the record the acoustic-driven She’s Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of) finds Sam indulging in a bit of clever wordplay, Now She Tells Me infuses Mexican rhythms and the heart-breaking Diamond Ring is a surprisingly moving and emotional moment. Title track Tenderheart is one of the finest moments on the record and it’s Sam at his best; honest, raw and relatable.

The album comes to a close with Look At You Now, one of the simplest arrangements on Tenderheart. It’s another chance for Sam to harmonise closely with Jenson and the results are stunning. The lyrics are bold too as Sam sings, ‘God isn’t really on your side, you just think he is’ telling someone the escape they are so desperately looking for isn’t really there.

Tenderheart is a stunning collection of songs that embodies the true meaning of Country music. Sam’s sound is so far removed from the mainstream polished songs coming from Nashville and harks back to the days when the genre relied on good old-fashioned stories. Tenderheart is an album that is so honestly crafted and so beautifully observed, that you can’t help but fall in love with it. Sam Outlaw has well and truly lodged himself in my heart with this beautiful record.

 

Track listing: 1. Everyone’s Looking For Home 2. Bottomless Mimosas 3. Bougainvillea, I Think 4. Tenderheart 5. Trouble 6. She’s Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of) 7. Two Broken Hearts 8. Diamond Ring 9. Say It To Me 10. All My Life 11. Dry in the Sun 12. Now She Tells Me 13. Look at You Now Record Label: Six Shooter Records Release Date: 14th April 2017

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