Sam Outlaw brings his hot SoCal sound to Sheffield

Singer-songwriter Sam Outlaw in his signature cowboy hat
Singer-songwriter Sam Outlaw in his signature cowboy hat

The Sheffield weather has been pretty much like that in Southern California lately, and now comes a musical flavour of that corner of the West Coast.

Sam Outlaw describes his style as “SoCal country – country music but with a Southern California spirit to it”, writes Peter Kay.

The tone is smooth and mellow, with the San Diego-based singer-songwriter carrying echoes of the likes of Jackson Browne and Glen Frey as well as George Jones.

He returns to Sheffield next Tuesday (August 7), bringing his band to the Hubs, Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union in Paternoster Row.

It’s a seated gig (with limited standing) and follows appearances at the Greystones, the last time a year ago.

“What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit?” he asks. “I don’t exactly know. But there’s an idea that I like that says every song, even happy songs, is written from a place of sadness.”

There are shades of the lonesome cowboy and he ticks country music boxes with tracks such as Jesus Take the Wheel (And Drive Me to a Bar) and Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink (And Fall in Love).

Yet Sam has been picking up fans from a broader spectrum, having taken his updated country style to audiences around a world increasingly embracing Americana.

He continues to build on the acclaim for his 2015 debut album, Angeleno, which was produced in Los Angeles by Ry Cooder and his son, Joachim, and features the father on every track. Reviews have been as enthusiastic for the follow-up, Tenderheart.

Outlaw was born Sam Morgan but his mother’s maiden name must have been just too good an opportunity to miss.

Support comes from Molly Parden, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who is in demand for her harmony vocals, appearing on more than 50 records in recent years.