Fearless, raw and vulnerable offering from raucous garage/punk/country outfit
‘Nightroamer’ is the latest album from Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, and continues their soundtrack for the “outliers and weirdos”, in Shook’s words. “It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be whatever you want it to be”. The music within is perhaps very slightly smoother than before, though it certainly retains the attitude and rawness found on their previous recordings, of garage rock and punk filtered through a country bar band. Shook is clearly a charismatic front person for the band, and it is easy to hear what a live force they would be in some sweaty club. There are a few stand out tracks – the no-nonsense ‘No Mistakes’, with its infectious country boogie feel; the vintage feel of ballad ‘If It’s Poison’, which wouldn’t sound out of place soundtracking a big emotional movie scene – though possibly a movie directed by David Lynch, as there’s always something slightly off kilter under the sweetness.
Shook gives an insight into relationships that (in her words) are not just about “how to keep your man for 20 years”. Her lyrics frequently appear to centre around the complexities of close relationships, but broaden the viewpoint, and the listener will find an acknowledgement that the underprivileged and ignored in society also deserve to have their voices heard, whether that is the LGBTQ scene, the single mother, the immigrant, the homeless, or whomever else doesn’t quite find a fit in the classic American dream.
Everything about the music feels simultaneously fearless and vulnerable, and it is refreshingly raw and real. For the newcomer to their music, there is much to enjoy in hooky choruses and three minute songs which owe a lot to classic country and pop, while retaining an underlying edginess. ‘Nightroamer’ perhaps offers the most consistent songwriting and performing of their recording career so far, though anyone enjoying this should certainly check out their other work, particularly the earworm that is ‘Good as Gold’ from previous album ‘Years’.