The music of Outlaw Orchestra is hard to categorise – at first listen you think country infused with southern rock but the further you go, the more you realise that their music is an eclectic mix of what they term ‘heavygrass’, with flamenco, 70’s rock and a bit of honky tonk blues thrown in too. It could be thought of as the kitchen sink approach to music making but it works. Band members David Roux (guitars and lead vocals), Ryan Smith (drums/vocals), Pete Briley (Banjo/Lap Steel/Vocals) and Alex Barter (double bass and vocals) releaased their second EP, God Knows We Tried in the summer of this year. In case the name of Pete Briley looks familiar, he is also one half of country duo Hengistbury.
The EP is bookended by ‘Country High‘, the latter a radio mix, and gives the listener a taste of the short but wild ride upon which they have embarked. As opening lines go, “me and my friends get high and write country songs” is a belter, with numerous “hell yeahs” peppered throughout. This band are clearly having a lot of fun – what’s the betting that their live gigs are awesome?
The stand out song for me is ‘Phantasmagoria‘, a love song with a twist, the twist being the object of affection has no idea. The track starts with a hefty taste of honky tonk blues and morphs into a rockier blues sound. Singing about the ‘lonesome blues’, it’s easy to see the bluegrass influences showing here.
This bluegrass touch is also apparent in the ballad style ‘God Knows‘, from whence the EP title derives. A power ballad combined with country rhythms and sounds, ‘heavygrass’ is a great description. In contrast, ‘Burn the House‘ embraces the rock sound entirely, albeit encompassing the country style that the band is based on.
Overall, this is a four track EP and leaves the listener wanting more – maybe next time an album?
The band’s advice for aspiring musicians is to “do what you love, make the music you want to make and do it as well as you can.”
God Knows We Tried was released on 18 July. Get your copy here.
Catch Outlaw Orchestra live or if you can’t make it, follow them at:
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