Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Sidelong, album review

Vegan Fucking Country

Characterised as ‘outlaw country’ on Shook’s Facebook page, that is near enough but it is also straight Country, good old-fashioned Country – with an edge; with a freshness that is both authentic and original – something in the, respectively, vocal drawl and lyrical content, perhaps also the contemporary ‘outlaw’ attributes of being a vegan, or perhaps to put it in her own fuller context: But full disclosure, I'm a fucking civil rights activist, and I'm a bisexual, and I'm an atheist, and I'm a vegan, you know what I mean? That's a whole lot of non-redneck shit right there.

So not redneck outlaw old time Country, but vegan outlaw country. And it is fucking good, to take a leaf from her own linguistic book where 10th track is titled Fuck Up, though this is the only one on the album not self-penned, being written rather by drummer John Howie, Jr. But it is like the rest of the songs: Country rock, really, cowboy guitars and rock guitars, mentions of whippoorwill and whiskey as on second track Heal Me. The lap steel of Phil Sullivan on the album’s title track extends the Country theme, Shook’s vocal offering such an unadorned yet perfect Country inflection, and the self-deprecation of the lyrics ringing honest. This is a great track.

‘New’ Country is alive and well from the likes of Angaleena Presley, recently reviewed here, and this excellent roots album from Sarah Shook, the latter sticking more to rockier, if vegan, meatiness. A homage to DY titled Dwight Yoakam furthers the strong sense of an innate allegiance to the authenticities of Country music, new and old, and this drawled ballad with those occasional classic Big C vocal inflections is also a great track. They are all great. A great band in support. It is a great album.

You can get it here.

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