On his upcoming release, Tenderheart, out next week, Sam Outlaw provides a delightful follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, self-titled album, which came out nearly two years ago. On his sophomore disc, Outlaw’s songwriting is perhaps even sharper than on his first effort, with deliberately nuanced phrases and wordplay. While its instrumentation may not be as overtly traditional as some longtime fans may be accustomed to, the record still feels like a unique Sam Outlaw project, as he explores other influences. Classic country sounds still prevail, though, with the lovely steel solo on Now She Tells Me and the charming, throwback All My Life. Outlaw’s trademark mariachi sounds make an appearance on the album’s opening track; Bottomless Mimosas feels truly authentic with the crooner’s warm voice, and Trouble would be a monster hit if country radio given the chance. Much has been written over the past two years about Outlaw’s last name and its implications, but on Tenderheart, the thirteen fantastic songs do the talking, resulting in a cohesive album that is as unique as it is timeless.
By Matthew Waga
Listen to the full album now via NPR First Listen