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article imageReview: Country star Sam Outlaw live in London Special

By Adrian Peel     Apr 12, 2016 in Music
London - The Los Angeles-based troubadour was responsible for one of 2015's best country albums, 'Angeleno.' He rolled into The Borderline in London on April 11, the ninth date of a short European tour that began on April 2 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Expectations were high for Sam Outlaw's first London gig since January, when the entertainer, whose real name is Sam Morgan, opened up for one of last year's other country music success stories, Aaron Watson. Able and very well-received support came from Americana duo, Lewis & Leigh (he's from Wales, she's from Mississippi).
Accompanied by singing partner Molly Jenson, Outlaw appeared just after nine o' clock in a black cowboy hat, denim shirt, black trousers and a jacket announcing, "We're gonna bum everyone out by starting with a new song." That song was "Look at You Now," an attention-grabbing opener.
"Love Her for a While," the fourth track on Angeleno, is up next and sounds as haunting as ever. Outlaw had done the previous shows on this tour with just him and Molly and their guitars. Tonight, however, the star has secured the services of two English musicians, on bass and pedal steel respectively.
The first song to feature them is "Cry for Me," for me the standout moment on the former advertising salesman's 2014 self-titled EP. Steel guitarist C.J. Hillman plays guitar on it, meaning we have to wait a little longer to hear some steel ("an instrument that used to be used all the time in country music," deadpans Outlaw later on). It duly comes, adding something extra to "It Might Kill Me."
One by one, the tracks from Angeleno and the EP are crossed off the list, although unfortunately there's no room in tonight's set for "Old Fashioned," one of my favourites.
Particularly outstanding are the album's title track, "Keep It Interesting," the Gram Parsons-esque "I'm Not Jealous," "Jesus Take the Wheel (And Drive Me to a Bar)" - where the line "my favourite country songs" is changed to "my favourite Merle Haggard songs" - and "Who Do You Think You Are?" which features some lovely Spanish guitar courtesy of Hillman.
When addressing the appreciative crowd, the likeable singer demonstrated his keen sense of humour and ready wit, regaling us with personal stories and humourous anecdotes. One of these is that he recently discovered that the name "Outlaw" (his late mother's maiden name) was in fact English, not Scottish as he had previously thought.
"S**t," he joked, before going on to say that, according to his uncle, some members of the Outlaw family had travelled to Ireland centuries ago to hunt wolves. "I don't know if it's true, but it's the greatest story I've ever heard!"
The encore included two cover versions ("One Night At a Time" by George Strait and Patty Loveless' "Blame It on Your Heart") and a very enjoyable new song entitled "She's Playing Hard to Get Rid Of."
When the 33-year-old Outlaw, soon to become a father for the first time (his wife Andie is expecting), gets back to the States the plan is to finish his new album. Judging by tonight's performance and the enthusiastic reception he received, I won't be the only UK resident buying it.
For more on Sam Outlaw, visit his official website.
More about sam outlaw, angeleno, molly jenson, lewis & leigh, aaron watson
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