Sign up for newsletter
 

Outlaw likes it hot

Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge, Mass., September 23, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Sam Outlaw noted a few times how hot it was inside the small club with about 50 people cramming in near the stage. Outlaw was talking about the warmth of the venue, but he could just as well - he would have had to have been egotistical, of course - have been talking about the quality of his music as well.

Once again, the traditionally-based west coast country singer (that's his real name, by the way) showed why his brand of country remains vital and relevant today.

Outlaw's star is on the rise and with good reason. He was nominated for an AmericanaFest Emerging Artist award, although he didn't win, and did several gigs during the fest earlier this month in Nashville.

Outlaw has a smooth voice with the lyrics coming out of his mouth seemingly so effortlessly. He sure sounds good with his sweet delivery.

Outlaw has a few albums to his credit - "Angeleno" and the more musically diverse "Tender Heart." While the latter, released in April, has a softer, less overtly traditional, Outlaw presented a slew of high quality material including "She Playing Hard to Get (Rid Of)" (got to love those old school song titles) and "Look at You Now." In a genre with a low story country these days, songs like "Everyone's Looking for Home" fills the bill admirably.

Pedal steel from Jeremy Long and guitar from Stephen Musselman kept the traditional quotient high. Backing vocals from keyboardist Michaela Anne and especially guitarist Molly Jenson well supported Outlaw's vocals and filled out the songs.

Outlaw followed up his own hour-long set of music with a set strictly of covers, starting with a tribute to the late Don Williams, who passed away a few weeks ago, with "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good." Outlaw followed with Clint Black's "Killing Time," Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen," Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" (one of her more country steeped songs and a fun one live), George Strait's "I Just Want to Dance With You," among others, before closing the night down with Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee."

Outlaw spread the love with Michaela Anne, who also opened with her own set, and Jenson having turns on lead vocals.

Outlaw and band couldn't be accused of putting their own spin on the songs. Instead, they played a fun, loose, well-done set of songs that actually were country, even if they hewed very close to the originals. That's not what fans tend to hear these days when country acts do covers, which seemingly tend to be anything but country.

No matter whether originals or covers, Outlaw and band made it all sound good in what proved to be a hot night of music.