‘Tenderheart’ by Sam Outlaw (Album)

1 May, 2017 in Music Reviews

Sam Outlaw

Sam Outlaw: combining plenty of twang with more than a hint of San Fernando Valley sun

On his second album, this country star continues to marry southern Californian sunshine with enough twang to keep everyone happy

Sam Outlaw 'Tenderheart' album coverThe second album from southern Californian musician Sam Outlaw finds him very much at centre stage, having written and co-produced it. It’s also a musical step forward from his debut Angeleno which expands his distinctive take on country music, combining plenty of twang with more than a hint of San Fernando Valley sun.

Having adopted his late mother’s maiden name, those hoping for a rugged desperado sound might be a little disappointed by the sensitive balladeer on display, but what does shines through is his classic songwriting. The James Taylor-vocal and classic storytelling of Bougainvillea, I Think is complemented by some sumptuous pedal steel, whereas the title track has that Tom Petty loose road-tripping feel, something of a countrified Free Fallin’ and features local mariachi players Erwin Vasquez and Mariachi Teocuitatlan.

Of all the partners in crime that show up throughout the record, special mention must be given to harmony singer Molly Jensen whose voice is a perfect match with Outlaw’s, adding that extra magic on tracks like Two Broken Hearts and All My Life.

There’s a loose SoCal feel to Outlaw’s music, which helps songs like Trouble and Diamond Ring rise above your standard ballads. Equally impressive is that it all still feels at home in classic country. Just take, Say It To Me, a breezy and confident track that brings together these elements and showcases the refined artistry of this talented young man.

Verdict: Another step forward

Duncan Haskell