Review by Darren Smith for MPM
Throughout the history or music, whether it be blues, country or rock, the deep South has long provided some of the best, most important and highly entertaining bands of our time.
Think of Elvis, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson or BB King, they all have their roots set in the deep south.
Whether it be Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana or Tennessee, they all have been graced by legendary acts and form part of the musical roots of the deep South. Well now you can add Southampton, Hampshire, to that list as the deep south of the UK has thrown its very own sons, The Outlaw Orchestra into that mix, with their delicious “Heavy Grass”.
It is a sublime blend of country, rock and blues that has all been thrown into a whiskey tumbler, mixed together and generated a uniquely luscious sound the 3 piece from Southampton can rightly and deservedly call their own.
I had the honour of reviewing the bands debut album, ‘Pantomime Villains’ in April last year which as I said then, came along just as boredom was setting in after 6 weeks of lockdown and provided a much needed boost to my personal endorphins.
Well, all I can say is some 46 weeks later and with copious amounts of whiskey inside me, the Southern rabble rousers have done it for me again with their latest release ‘Powercut’.
There is one thing you can guarantee from The Outlaw Orchestra, along with tuneage of the highest calibre and that is FUN! Whether it be on stage or on recorded product, the band are complete and consummate entertainers and this mini album, which follows two EP’s and a full length album continues that trend in formidable style.
Encompassed within a radio show style intro and outro, the Outlaw Orchestra have recorded 6 luciously enticing mouth-watering morsels during lockdown to satisfy the thirst of their hardened fans, whilst providing a row of tasty little shots to be savoured and enjoyed by new incumbents before the oak soaked and well matured keg gets cracked open when live shows hopefully return later this year.
First track up is the brand new and latest single, ‘Rattlesnake Sour’. A foot stomping little ditty, that in true Outlaw Orchestra style, opens the mini album up in dynamic fashion.
Full of witty lyrics and exquisite steel guitar, it is just over 2 minutes of complete ecstasy that will make your feet and hands lose any self control they had and tap away to the enchanting rhythm of the song. ‘God Knows’, which follows, is a really laid back, country blues reworking of a track from the bands ‘God Knows We Tried’ EP.
Full of some enchanting vocals from Trish Burke Manser that compliment the whiskey soaked vocals from Dave Roux so perfectly, it is a track designed to be listened to whilst sitting on your deck, whiskey in hand, looking into at one of those stunningly beautiful sunsets as you just while away the last moments of daylight staring at a scene of blissful heavenly serenity.
‘Chicken Fried Snake’ is the first of two dips into last years divine ‘Pantomime Villains’ album. This stripped back version loses none of the charisma or charm of the original, in fact it gives it a whole new lease of life albeit one that exists in a parallel universe.
From the bluesy guitar to the raspy vocal from Dave Roux, that performs the eloquent yet humorous lyrics so impeccably, it is an alluring number that will have you singing along at the top of your voice in no time. Don’t sing too loudly though as you just miss the heavenly guitar break mid song that blends in so perfectly with the feel of the song.
Next up is ‘Got It Made’ which has an out and out country vibe to it. The way the guys have written this is just jaw droppingly beautiful. It has a sway to its rhythm that clearly entices you to raise your glass in the air, put your arms around the shoulders of your loved one and just let the music take control of your body.
This is the Outlaw Orchestra doing a love song, but doing it their way. Breath taking! That leads into ‘Back to Georgia’ from the ‘Devil Made Me Do It’ EP which sits here in almost regal fashion with its toe tapping beat that gets those limbs moving uncontrollably of their own accord.
Infectious is such a good word to describe the pulse this delightfully fun version of the song. I listened to the EP over and over again in writing this review and came to one conclusion, the loved ones of the band members would be in for one hell of a roadtrip if they got to travel those 30,000 miles back to Georgia with the boys in this form.
Last up, before the radio show outro, is ‘Send Some Whiskey Home’, again from the bands 2020 album. Again, this track is filled with another stunning vocal performance from Trish Burke Manser and really does close this mini album out in sensational style. Along with those vocals,
the acoustic guitar, steel guitar and tantalising percussion all blend together perfectly to send you into a dreamy state of mind. It is a gracefully pleasing way to round off this release and shows that these three musicians from the deepest south in the UK are undeniably great musicians and songwriters and when they want to they can move from fun and frolics to raw heartfelt emotion in one foul swoop.
They seem to do it so seamlessly too as the transition happens without losing any of the natural flair that The Outlaw Orchestra possess.
So far 2021 has provided us with some great releases and ‘Powercut’ has just added itself to that list. I think this year is going to be a bumper year as The Outlaw Orchestra, like so many other bands have used their lockdown time so wisely in making amazing new music for us fans to love and enjoy.
Not only will 2020-21 go down in the annals of history for the pandemic but it could well also go down in those history books as a period of great productivity for the talented individuals like Dave Roux, Pete Briley and Ryan Smith to show us and many future generations what they are put on this earth to do. For me, that is entertain and boy, do they entertain with a real panache.
Pre-orders for Powercut, which is due out on the 26th March 2021 on Voodoo Records, catalogue number VQOOA2CD are now open. ‘Rattlesnake Sour’, the first single from Powercut, along with its accompanying video came out on the 12th March.
Powercut Track Listing
1 – 982.5 The Rattlesnake
2 – Rattlesnake Sour
3 – God Knows
4 – Chicken Fried Snake
5 – Got It Made
6 – Back To Georgia
7 – Send Some Whiskey Home
8 – Tomorrow’s Weather
The Outlaw Orchestra line up
David Roux – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Ryan Smith – Drums, Percussion and Vocals
Pete Briley – Banjo
Additional vocals on ‘Powercut’ by Trish Burke Manser