Formed in the “Deep South” of England (Southampton, actually) in 2016 THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA is a bluegrasstone, countryweight rock ‘n’ roll quartet composed of: David Roux (guitars/lead vocals); Ryan Smith (drums/percussion/vocals); Pete Briley (banjo/lap steel/vocals); and Alex Barter (double bass/vocals.)
Their new release, titled “Pantomime Villains” is out on May 29, 2020 via Voodoo Queen records.
“You’ve got to listen BOTH ways before you cross this symphonious freeway...” they say. This is “Cowtown America meets Sheffield steel; it’s singing for your dinner on the road; it’s Love Songs for Dogs; it’s cosmic anecdotes…”
Take, for example, the Stonesish, bluesy, percussive atmosphere on “Arabia” (shared below) that jingles like a cowboy’s broken cup, yet parades itself strong like a gaggle of leather-wear greasers at booze ‘n’ bike one percenter rally.
“Take A Bow” is lucid with fingerpicked banjo and loose-handed rattle. The vocal is speedy and corn-fed with lots of clappy vibration and elongated, gatorskin guitar.
“Chicken Fried Snake” has a gratifying darkness and a rewarding buzzy riff. This is an outstanding number with accelerated agility in the voice and fluid delicacy in the musicality. It sounds like something that might have come from Blackberry Smoke, but only after they’d been forced to join a two-bit traveling medicine-show and were told to perform in a raggedy side-tent off the main drag. In other words, there’s an air of disgruntled malcontent on this number… but of course it’s managed with the kind of dixieland patience you’d expect from a bunch of outlaw punks who’d tolerate any kind of disadvantage as long as they had a good craic.
“Hanging Tree” is not the James Newton Howard or even the Lumineers version you might expect… but it is, nonetheless, as authentic a slice of homemade apple pie as ever you’d want… and has the required & nifty rockabilly beat, a clever tangle of guitar and an agile line of banjo and, of course… it has that ever-present joby-joe twang.
“Voodoo Queen” bestows the best flamenco on the album and embodies the kind of old-time vaudeville rep you might have experienced in any one of Calamity Jane’s favorite brothel-bars south of the Mason–Dixon line, circa 1880. Yesiree, leave your holsters by the bar and get yourself dancin’ to this one!
Take a gulp of rotgut fire-water, sit yourself down on your Harley Davidson saddle (or tinplate tractor seat if you’d prefer) ) and grab this cowpuncher’s hoedown hoot like there’s no tomorrow (and there probably isn’t so what are you waiting for?) Irresistible
File alongside Willie Nelson. And, no, we can’t have too much!
Words: @neilmach 2020 ©
Main image Photo Credit: Will Carter of Two Finger Media