Tenderheart is a leisurely and refined set of cosmic country songs by this LA-based artist. The man may be an outlaw by name but his stance is more traditional than rebellious.
Most tunes have such an immediacy that they already sound like standards; the kind of material that makes the music of Gram Parsons so timeless.
As the title suggests, there's a tenderness to the sentiments even with barbed break up songs like the self explanatory She's Playing Hard To Get (Rid Off).
In this singer's world, love never runs smoothly but it is always worth pursuing. In Two Broken Hearts, finding a significant other all boils down to pragmatics: "She was sick of being angry; He was sick of being blue".
Bougainvillea, I Think is my favourite track, a simple yet beautifully conceived song about half-remembered, half-forgotten meetings with a "kind and sweet" old Argentinean woman who was a neighbour and friend.
The arrangements are clean and the record features the same backing singers and musicians from Outlaw's debut - Angeleno. The one notable addition is a local mariachi group. The pedal steel playing of Jeremy Long is particularly evocative.
The album was recorded in the San Fernando Valley which probably accounts for the un-hurried, sun-kissed charm of the music.
Outlaw's style is uncomplicated and even a little corny but he consistently hits the right mark and never settles for just being dumb.
Sam Outlaw's website