Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Album Review: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Years

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers
*** out of *****

On Sarah Shook & The Disarmers second album Years the honky-tonk players sound as if they have been around forever and are tired of all the shit. Shook and company trudge the well worn barroom paths from stool to stage with steel guitars and a steel spine as they recant failed loves and drunken adventures.

The outfit crisscross familiar tropes, and while they proclaim a punk streak and influence, Years is straight up outlaw country with perhaps a wee bit more edge. "Good As Gold" is a confident opener about a guy who is too good for his girl, as she is about to run out and the well written number is sung from her POV before the go-to problem solver/starter alcohol enters center stage for "The Bottle Never Lets Me Down"; ahh that old safety blanket of booze feels comfortable. 

There is a sense of tiredness on the album as if Shook is hungover and giving up, both "New Ways To Fail" and "Over You" face this directly, saying that things are just beat and beat down. Both tracks fit in the country vein but vocally/lyrically Shook adds a palpable sense of "fuck it" with her performances but also retreats into lyrical cliches ("need this like a hole in my head"). Shook's singing is disaffected and while not for everyone, it works best with these feed up numbers. 

A unique effort is the more emotionally delivered, "Parting Words" which works in both classical and pop country realms. The marching drums skip with ease as guitars work in and out but it is the more soaring singing style of Shook on this number which gives it wings. The title track also mixes up the script a bit with a warbling ending that breaks away from the sawdust floors into more modern vein, interestingly giving a peak at a possible wider scope for the band.

It is the Merle Haggard style that is the constant present through out however as "What It Takes" picks up the pace, "Lesson" swaggers with excellent electric guitar work and the follies of a fun night and it's home-life consequences lightens the mood for "Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don't". Bloodshot Records puts out rock solid Americana/country records that capture the independent spirit,  Sarah Shook & The Disarmers Years continue their winning streak over weeping strings, whiskey drowned lyrics and a sense of finding ones self among the wreckage.   
Support the band, buy the album, peep some video below:

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