The future’s bright for the young Angeleno
And an old song plays in his head
Far as he knows…
These lines from the title track of Sam Outlaw’s debut album Angeleno could almost serve as a haiku-like artist bio. Outlaw is a southern Californian singer-songwriter steeped in the music and mythos of west coast country, absorbing the classic vibes of everything from ’60s Bakersfield honky-tonk to ’70s Laurel Canyon troubadour pop and refashioning them into a sound that’s pleasurably past, present and future tense.
“The music I play, I call ‘SoCal country,’” says Outlaw. “It’s country music but with a Southern California spirit to it. What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit, I don’t exactly know. But there’s an idea that I like that says – every song, even happy songs, are written from a place of sadness. If there’s a special sadness to Southern California it’s that there’s an abiding shadow of loss of what used to be. But then, like with any place, you have a resilient optimism as well.”
Rolling Stone said this about his new album, Tenderheart: From the subtle groove of “Bottomless Mimosas,” the antithesis of a whiskey-slugging barnburner, to the Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner twang of “All My Life” and the sweet tongue-in-cheek of “She’s Playing Hard to Get (Rid Of)” Outlaw’s vision of California country on Tenderheart is one of love, loss and constant learning.