This is outlaw country in the classical sense — hard-driving songs about hard living and deep regrets. Shook leads the way with forthright lyrics that refuse to give her a pass for the pain she’s caused others — or vice-versa.— Wide Open Country
Sarah Shook entered the spotlight as one of the most important new voices in new country music. Like she’s been there all her life.— TIDAL
Her cussed-minded delivery and blemishes-and-all defeatism [is] the perfect complement to her band mates' hillbilly choogle.— Rolling Stone
Like Tammy Wynette fronting the Ramones— Missoula Indepenent
Her songs may draw on classic country themes such as boozing, romance (in all its ups and downs), and hard living, but her perspective is unmistakably grounded in the present.— She Shreds Magazine
With Sarah Shook in the mix, hard core country is alive and well, and dangerous as all get out.— No Depression
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers are a Country band out of North Carolina that wear its Rock’n’Roll smirk like a tattoo...[and] sing for sad smiles and hard-luck tales.— The Alternate Root
Honest to a fault and as foul-mouthed as a drunken sailor, she's a nonconforming spitfire who's proud of not fitting in with mainstream country music.— Rolling Stone
When Sidelong, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ debut album, was released in early 2017, it quickly earned kudos for its blast of fresh, fierce honesty and sly wit. It was a welcome new voice in a genre too often mired in the staid and conventional. And while that record may have come to many as a surprise, Years solidifies the point: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it. The album–with its sharpened songwriting, unique perspective, deepened sound and roll-up-your-sleeves attitude–will grab you by the collar and put a defiant finger to your chest. It is resolute, blunt, and unflinching.
Inspired by artists such as the Sex Pistols, Elliott Smith and Hank Williams, Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track, coloring the tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep. It’s easy to hear Sarah as a close cousin to artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff and Margo Price on the title track, or in the country-‘60s mod vibe on “Lesson.” “Good as Gold,” sporting a kiss-off line for the ages, “You’re as good as gold/ I’m as good as gone,” is both vulnerable and defiant, soaring with pop-inflected harmonies. And with an expansiveness evoking the wide-open West, “What it Takes” speaks to the truth of the record, to her life, and to the universe.
At its pounding heart, Years crackles with a pointedly contemporary and relevant take on the outlaw spirit. Built around the buoyant pedal steel of Phil Sullivan, and the post-punk rattle and Live at San Quentin hum of Eric Peterson’s guitar, there are echoes of Nikki Lane and Merle Haggard as much as Ty Segall. Its home is the ragged-but-real honky tonk, not the bro-country “honky tonk.” The barroom singalong “New Ways to Fail” is classic, smile-through-the-pain country. “Damned If I Do” could be the “Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin” of the 21st century, if we let it; a perfect song for rolling in the wry and sneaking in a quick two-step. The sinister “The Bottle Never Lets Me Down” will get anyone who’s ever been wronged righteously flipping the bird as they knock back the next shot. Therapy in the face of personal devastation takes many forms, after all.
As Sarah herself tells it...
This record is about finding a way. A way through exhaustion, depression, betrayal, hangover after hangover, upper after downer after upper, fight after never-ending fight. It’s about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after years of being trampled and beaten down, jutting your chin out, head high, after they’ve done their worst, and saying, “Still here.”
This record is shouting “f**k you, I do want I want” from the rooftops to the mother******g cosmos.
When Sidelong, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ debut album, was released in early 2017, it quickly earned kudos for its blast of fresh, fierce honesty and sly wit. It was a welcome new voice in a genre too often mired in the staid and conventional. And while that record may have come to many as a surprise, 2018's follow-up, Years, solidifies the point: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it.
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. 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.
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. At times, it’s as simple and muscular as Luther Perkins’ boom-chicka-boom, or as downtown as Johnny Thunders. The Disarmers keep in the pocket, tight and tough.
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have been covered by the likes of Rolling Stone, The FADER, Noisey/VICE, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
This is a new voice for a new country.
Official Website: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Online