With a voice an octave or two lower than other country mavens like Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, or even modern female country luminaries like Margo Price, Lily Hiatt and Nikki Lane, Sarah Shook is something of an anomaly. With a voice more like a bullhorn than a nightingale, featuring a country-esque warble, albeit a few registers lower than we’re accustomed to hearing it, Shook and her band, The Disarmers has gifted us a fantastic new release, Years.
The album’s strongest tracks are the first and last ones, but they bookend 8 other gems. Among them, the rockabilly number Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t, and the minor key brooder The Bottle Never Lets Me Down are stylistically polar opposites, and Shook’s versatility keeps the listener engaged.
A follow up to last year’s excellent record Sidelong, the ten songs on Years feature classic country pedal steel riffs and chunky telecaster tones. With plenty of songs about drinking, and broken relationships, often both within the same song, Years might be dismissed as just another country record, but Shook’s aggressive bellow and audible sneer injects a little punk flavor. It’s not always necessarily euphonic, but it’s awesome.
That middle finger attitude extends into Shook’s lyrics as well. On New Ways to Fail, she sings: “It seems my way of livin’ don’t live up to your standards//And if you had your way I’d be some proper kind of lady//Well the door is over there, if I may speak with perfect candor//You’re welcome to walk through it at any old time that you fancy//’Cause I need this shit like I need another hole in the head.”
Shook has been as prolific as early 2000’s Ryan Adams with two stellar releases over the last two years. Here’s to hoping for more of the same in the years to come.
Years is out now on Bloodshot Records
Listen to Years via spotify