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180 gram LP with digital download card.
"I simply cannot imagine a better time to be an independent woman fronting an outlaw country band than right the fuck now.”
Rowdy punk rock insolence to the right, a bottle in a bag; organic three-chords-and-the-truth frankness to the left—one eye in the rearview mirror and one eye on the rough road ahead. Sidelong is a record that will make you sit up and take notice. This is a new voice for a new country.
Sidelong rides in the middle front, before seat belts, of a ’77 Buick Riviera, half joy ride and half escape. Rowdy punk rock insolence to the right, a bottle in a bag; organic three-chords-and-the-truth frankness to the left—one eye in the rearview mirror and one eye on the rough road ahead. It’s a hell of a trip.
North Carolina’s Sarah Shook sings with a conviction and hard honesty sorely lacking in much of today’s Americana landscape. Always passionate, at times profane, Sarah stalks/walks the line between vulnerable and menacing, her voice strong and uneasy, country classic but with contemporary, earthy tension. You can hear in her voice what’s she’s seen; world weary, lessons learned—or not—but always defiant. She level-steady means what she says. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers has been covered by the likes of No Depression, Independent Weekly, and Rolling Stone, with the latter including the group on their July 2016 list of "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know."
Writing with a blunt urgency—so refreshing these days it's almost startling—Sarah's lyrics are in turn smart, funny, mean, and above all, uncompromising. Sly turns of phrase so spot on they feel as old and true as a hymn. Anger that's as confrontational as it is concise. Humor that's as wry and resigned as a park bench prophet. With gallows humor belying the upbeat honky-tonk of “The Nail,” she says everything we've all thought in the worst moments of a relationship gone south: Well, I ain’t your last, you ain’t my first / You can’t decide which fact is worse. Any languid waltz that starts "I'm drinking water tonight cuz I drank all the whiskey this morning" ("Dwight Yoakam") is dipping a bucket into a DEEP well of country pathos—the distorted guitar over the top giving it some real menace. "Fuck Up" is a spry little two-step, but with a devastatingly laconic behind the bar at closing time refrain; the hangdog lyrics speaking to Saturday night regret and Sunday morning repent. “Solitary Confinement” lays out a totally original strategy to keep away from a lover, and the promise in “Misery Without Company,” I’m fixin’ to dry out tomorrow, is wholly unconvincing.
The Disarmers hit all the sweet spots from Nashville’s Lower Broad to Bakersfield and take Sarah's unflinching tales out for some late-night kicks. The versatile guitar of Eric Peterson roams wide but never steers into the ditch. At times, it’s as simple and muscular as Luther Perkins’ boom-chicka-boom, or as downtown as Johnny Thunders (check those greasy riffs in “Nothing Feels Right But Doin’ Wrong”). There’s the chugging indie-rock snarl in “Heal Me” and the big sky horizon of a Cormac McCarthy western in “No Name.” "Keep the Home Fires Burnin'" shows an edgy Buckaroo mettle with the wicked lap steel work by Phil Sullivan. "The Nail" is a dark-souled garage rave-up with the swing of the Old 97's and the backbone of Bob Wills, courtesy of John Howie Jr’s on the money drumming. Aaron Oliva keeps the tempo of the band's live performances on track with the sonic growl of his upright bass. The Disarmers keep in the pocket, tight and tough.
Sidelong is a record that will make you sit up and take notice. This is a new voice for a new country.