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Sam Outlaw

Troubadour Los Angeles

Saturday, May 14, 2022 8:00 PM


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Sam Outlaw’s third full-length album, Popular Mechanics, announces a creative reinvention for the “SoCal Country” singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Inspired by family bonds and the great innovators of the 20th century, his latest project signals a restless desire to explore another side of himself.

“I wanted to do something I’d never done before,” he says. “A sound that fuses the country music elements I love, like the pedal steel, to the bombast of 1980s pop production: fretless bass, synthesizers, drum machines, and stacked vocals. My goal was to incorporate the full spectrum of my influences.”

The ambitious direction of Popular Mechanics may seem like a sudden shift from Outlaw’s country-leaning albums, Angeleno (2015) and Tenderheart (2017), but the gears actually started

turning in early 2018 after Outlaw shelved some new material he recorded in Southern California. He recalls, “We ended up with some really great stuff, but I wasn’t satisfied. The

songs felt like the beginning of something new but not the complete picture. I was also burned out from non-stop touring and my home life was suffering, so I decided to take a breath.

That same year, Outlaw left L.A. and moved his wife and young son to Nashville to establish fresh roots in anticipation of their second child. The move took him out of his comfort zone and

provided perspective on his creative and professional goals. Pondering how to fully embrace a new sound, some inspiration arrived unexpectedly during a visit from his father.

“I come from a long line of engineers - on the Morgan side and the Outlaw side of my family. My dad is a mechanical engineer who started a manufacturing company in the ‘90s, but we’d

never really talked much about his business. Then one day we started discussing some of his company’s challenges, and in the process I learned about the obstacles engineers face in a

modern technical industry. I started getting into the mind of the engineer.” The epiphany came when he connected industrial machines with the role technology plays in recorded music. “I’ve always loved ‘80s music so I started learning about the engineers and music producers from that era, like Trevor Horn, Mutt Lange, Neil Dorfsman. It was a time when the producer

and the recording engineer were as critical to the creative process as the artists.” Outlaw says,

“Those producers pushed the technology to achieve their creative vision because their inspiration

was not so much the music of the past, but the possibilities of the future.”

Outlaw remembers that everything came into focus for the album once he envisioned the album

title: Popular Mechanics. He explains, “As a boy I loved reading the science magazine “Popular Mechanics," so the phrase must have made an indelible impression on my mind. And for an

album title it perfectly sums up the concept. The word ‘Popular’ references the pop music influence and ‘Mechanics’ is a nod to engineering and exploration. In the studio, Cheyenne and I

approached creating each song like an architect designs a skyscraper.”

To achieve his own elaborate blend of roots music and pop, Outlaw turned to producer Cheyenne

Medders, a Nashville multi-instrumentalist who had produced an album by their mutual friend, Sarah Darling. In 2019, Outlaw and Darling performed together at the Grand Ole Opry, where

Outlaw introduced himself to Medders. “When I first met Cheyenne backstage at the Opry I fumbled through my pitch for the record, which I jokingly said, instead of Americana, was going to be 'Arena-cana.' Big and bold. My fear was that it was a sound I hadn’t tried before and my other fear was that I don’t have one of those soaring tenor voices like Steve Winwood or Kenny Loggins. They were singing almost an octave

above my range. So I confessed to Cheyenne, ‘I just don’t have that kind of voice.'"

Outlaw recalls, “Cheyenne just looked at me and said, ‘That’s what’s going to make it great. Your voice is what makes it your own.’” From this shared vision, the duo constructed a compelling album of original songs that draw from a widescreen span of influences. From the Petty/Nicks prowl of “Here on a Mission” and the New Wave title track “Popular Mechanics” to the exotic allure of “Half a World Away” and romantic “For the Rest of Our Lives." Side A continues with a reassuring Cyndi Lauper-like “Sun Ain’t Set” and standout rocker “Polyamorous” - a song inspired by the true story love triangle that created Wonder Woman in the 1940s. Side B immerses the listener further into the rock arena with the power ballad “Stay the Night” and angsty “Bad Enough” featuring flourishing strings and layered guitars. Quieter tracks “Language of Love” and “Daydreaming” deliver moments of reflective calm before the closing anthem “When You Feel It,” a poignant testimonial to the fire inside. Outlaw concludes, “Up until now, the music I’ve made really only shows one side of myself, but

I put my whole heart on the line with Popular Mechanics. I hope listeners will approach this album with open minds, and I can’t wait to reconnect with everyone at the shows. Creative

expression is, after all, the shared celebration of the creative spirit that lives inside every one of us.”

Victoria Bailey
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Grounding her timeless country music palette is her crystalline voice; an inviting warm tone with the occasional flutter that transports you back in time to a classic honky tonk where they’re playing the aforementioned Cline, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton on rotation — all of whom she has carried from the dive bar to the main stage. Bailey brings that same spirit to the 21st century through relatably raw, non-sugarcoated songwriting that may seem unexpected from most contemporary female musicians in the country realm. She shines a relevant light on some of the shadier corners of the genre not typically addressed, such as the hypocrisy that can be found in the outlaw country mindset, all while evoking a fiery, no-holds-barred lyrical approach in the vein of Margo Price.

Produced by Jeremy Long, Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline (out early fall 2020 via Rock Ridge Music) is a whiskey-smooth concoction of crisp guitars, silky fiddle, and radiant pedal steel that expertly glides beneath Bailey’s magnetic, California sun-kissed soprano. Bailey’s full-length label debut — a nine-song collection featuring eight originals and one cover — paints stunning vignettes spanning from adrenaline-rushing love at first sight and down-and-out heartache, to treasuring country music’s indelible roots, and the wavering journey of resilience when chasing one’s dreams.

It’s no surprise that the places where she fell in love with live country music serve as the backdrop for the album’s first single. On the melancholy anthem “Honky Tonk Woman,” Bailey yearns to become the ideal country crooner who has an evergreen catalog of jukebox standards that can provide the soundtrack for life’s memorable moments, like a first dance. “Honky Tonk Woman” was the first song written for the album, serving as the integral centerpiece by leading Bailey in a musical direction of classic country soundscapes and representing an important part of her story. “Everything in that song is so true to who I am,” she shares. “I feel really connected with singing in these kinds of bars and the community that supports that, so this is my ode to them.”

While continually looking forward with her progressive take on country music, Bailey also looks back to honor the genre’s West Coast roots. The album’s second planned single, “Skid Row,” is a rollicking, toe-tapping ode to a beloved LA honky tonk and the Bakersfield sound. On the soulful third single, “Spent My Dime on White Wine,” she leans in for support from an uplifting gospel choir and a bluesy guitar as she traverses the hard road of perseverance in what can be an uphill climb for a career in music. When times get tough, she finds resolute faith and strength in singing for “the two lonely hearts in the crowd.”  The single release will be accompanied by a video for the song.

“The Beginning” is a love-laced, butterfly-stirring portrait of the initial encounter between two lovers as fate unites them on a dance floor. Elsewhere, Bailey is penning a different kind of ode, including one where she’s perfectly unafraid to call out an ex for his two-timing ways. The reality-checking “Ramblin’ Man” cleverly points out double standards for those who hide behind the can’t-be-tied-down outlaw mentality in lieu of fidelity and honesty: “And you call yourself a cowboy / Because you come and you go as you please.” On the aptly-titled “Outlaws,” she ponders why these musicians are tough to pin down over a waltz-like guitar strum.

She pays tribute to the great Johnny Cash with her rendition of “Tennessee,” a faithful take on a staple that seamlessly blends in with her eight originals on the album. The album comes to a tender close on “Travelin’ Kind,” a cautionary tale about the struggles of maintaining a relationship with a musician who spends the majority of her time out on the road. “Homegrown Roots” is a playful salute to Nashville and brings listeners a taste of Music City with a sing-along-friendly refrain.

Raised under the rays of the sun in Huntington Beach, CA, the classic country singer-songwriter was surrounded by music in her household from an early age. From her drumming father’s rock ‘n’ roll band practices to her mom playing the narrative-driven songbooks of folk icons like Cat Stevens and James Taylor, Bailey was naturally drawn to music and the art of storytelling. After falling in love with the guitar at the age of 12, she quickly developed an affinity for songwriting in her late teens and garnered the kind of support system every musical child would dream of. Her father was so impressed by her talent that he called on his three musically-inclined best friends to join him in becoming his daughter’s backing band, eventually performing shows around town.

It was the at-first daunting yet exhilarating aspect of performing live that made Bailey realize this was life’s path for her. She found a sense of community very early on by playing honky tonks and bars that allowed the opportunity to cut her teeth on the craft of traditional country music. With five or six years of diligently working the Golden State’s music scene under her belt, she was ready to transpose her striking penchant for storytelling from the stage into an impressive full-length label debut.

Distilled into three vivid symbols on Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline, Bailey weaves these honest stories together for a refreshing examination of real-life American trials and tribulations through her heartfelt lens. “I hope that listeners get to know me and my story through this album, and what I love the most in life,” she says. “Just to be brought back into what classic country captures and makes people feel good about, I hope that it resonates in that same way.” Indeed, it’s a welcome reminder of country music’s potency — both sonically and thematically — to ease and comfort today’s listeners through relatable storytelling, and Bailey is a promising torchbearer for the genre’s rich legacy and where it’s heading.


9081 Santa Monica Blvd
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