sarah shook & the disarmers Sidelong (CD, £12.50)label: bloodshot
"Honest to a fault and foul mouthed as a drunken sailor, she's a nonconforming spitfire who's proud of not fitting in with mainstream country music" - Rolling Stone. North Carolina's Sarah Shook sings with a conviction and hard honesty sorely missing in much of today's Americana landscape. Rowdy punk rock insolence to the right, a bottle in a bag; organic three chords and the truth frankness to the left. 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. Writing with 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 true as a hymn. Anger that's as confrontational as it is concise. Humour that's as wry and resigned as a park bench prophet. Meanwhile, 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. From the indie-rock snarl in 'Heal Me' to the big sky horizon of a Cormac McCarthy western in 'No Name,' the Disarmers keep it in the pocket, tight and tough. Sidelong is a record that will make you sit up and notice. This is a new voice for a new country.
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