Review: The Outlaw Orchestra – Pantomime Villains
Voodoo Queen Records (May 29th 2020)
Reviewer: Grant Foster
As I type this, we are in uncharted waters. So, what better than to be reviewing The Outlaw Orchestra. Their name had been bought to my attention by Donna Lennoc, one of a few Facebook friends, who support new and upcoming bands. (Well done you lot!)
The band’s website describes them as coming from the Deep South……….as in the south coast of England, not Texas! Like good whiskey, they are a definite blend. Country, blues, Cajun, rock and even splashes of Motorhead are put up on offer as influences, but I like the term ‘countrified rock and roll’, that is also mentioned.
What they definitely are, is authentic. They sound and more importantly, FEEL, like they are from Arkansas. They walk it and they talk it. You can just tell it runs through their veins. The second track, ‘Chicken Fried Snake’ is an absolute balls out classic. You’ll never eat fish and chips or a kebab again after listening to this tune.
‘Whiskey Drinking Liar’ has Blackfoot stamped all over it. I can hear Rickey Medlock applauding all the way from Skynyrdland. The sound that the OO has created is joyous. Wait on, did I say Blackfoot? There goes a big slab of the Allman Brothers. It’s all warm and layered, but yet so organic. The vocals of Dave Roux bleed Texicana and swamps and ‘gators in only the way real rock and roll does. It’s fabulous. Pete Briley’s banjo and lap steel are all over this recording and it’s those subtle and not so subtle touches that are all in the right places. Alex Barter plays a double bass with a crocodile’s head, all stand up and aggro. The drums of Ryan Smith swing, a la Bonham, Baker and all those mid 50’s and 60’s rock and roll skin swingers.
‘Arabaia’ has the wonderful refrain, ‘Where’s my camel when you need one?!’ These guys also play with a big assed smile on their faces. Can you imagine them live?! ‘Jumpin Jive’ is exactly what you’d expect it to be like, a hoe down with Brian Setzer at the bar downing double Makers Mark. Yet the boys can do ‘mellow’ too.
‘It Happened Again’ has those bluesy overtones, a bit Black Crowes-ish, but without being pompous and jammed out. I can’t imagine the OO playing a thirty minute stretched out version of anything. They’d wanna get to the bar and pronto. ‘Voodoo Queen’ Texicana crosses with flamenco – it wouldn’t sound out of place in Desperado the type movie. To my ears, the last two tracks hint at where the OO COULD be heading.
I don’t really want to be using words like ‘mature’, but maybe ‘structured’ explains it better. The female backing vocals in ‘Send Some Whiskey’ certainly adds to what is a strong ending to a very fine debut album.