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Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Years – Album Review

“Her sound is a sneering fusion of punk-rock autonomy and say-it-like-it-is country from the classic era, paired with a timeless vocal warble and tons of attitude”. —Rolling Stone Country

Sarah Shook (songwriter, vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Peterson (electric guitar), Aaron Oliva (upright bass), and Phil Sullivan (pedal steel) photo credit: John Gessner

Coming off what many would consider a career album, SidelongSarah Shook & the Disarmers return with their sophomore album, Years. As a bit of background, Sidelongwas independently released in 2015 and then re-released in 2017 when Bloodshot Records signed them. It quickly earned them praise for its blast of freshness, honesty and it’s in-your-face wit. It was a welcome new voice in a genre too often bogged down in the mundane and respectable.

Years continues the themes of hard drinking, heartbreak and being wronged. It takes the outlaw spirit to another level that most can identify. With lines like “Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t” the theme is set throughout the album and it does not disappoint.

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.

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.

Song List:
Good as Gold
New Ways to Fail
Over You
The Bottle Never Lets Me Down
Parting Words
What it Takes
Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t
Heartache in Hell

Years is releasing on April 6, 2018. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers are out on the road currently and coming to a town near you soon. If you appreciate country music the way it should be, then get out there and see them live!

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers:

Journalist: Orest Dorosh


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 StoneThe FADERNoisey/VICEThe Wall Street Journal, and more.

This is a new voice for a new country. 

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