Sam Outlaw has been gaining fans of his Southern California-influenced country on this side of the pond for several years, so expectations were high for his appearance at Nashville Meets London. Following the release of his second album Tenderheart, which reached number three on the UK Country chart, Sam returned to London as the second-to-last act of the festival as part of his current tour.
I’d heard a little bit of Sam’s soundcheck before the set and it sounded amazing, so I couldn’t wait to hear the full show. He kicked off his performance with the Wild West-influenced Kind To Me and the honky-tonk of I’m Not Jealous, both of which showed off the raspy drawl in his voice to perfection. I also liked the balance of the upbeat rhythms with the slightly more melancholy lyrics, and his harmonies with band member Molly Jensen were excellent as always.
The hour-long set was absolutely jam-packed with great songs from start to finish, from All My Life, Love Her For A While and crowd favourite Ghost Town to Say It To Me and the fast and furious Sacramento. Throughout the performance Sam looked like he was really enjoying the performance, jamming with his band members, cracking self-deprecating jokes and playing up to the camera at the back of the stage.
However the standout moments for me were the slower songs, particularly the soaring chorus of Tenderheart and the emotional Keep A Close Eye On Me, where Sam’s vocal and storytelling abilities really stood out. I also loved Sam’s duet with Molly, Keep It Interesting, which was the perfect blend of their voices and showed off their musical chemistry really well.
Sam finished the set with the singalong Trouble and the upbeat, twangy Hole Down In My Heart, before duetting with Molly on a cover of George Strait’s One Night At A Time. The three tracks summed up the old-school vibe of his music and from the people I spoke to after his set I think he’s found a whole wave of new fans. The only thing was I missed some of his more humorous songs which I think would have added a different element to the performance, but I also liked that he wasn’t afraid to vary the set compared to previous performances. Here’s hoping he comes back as a headliner next year!
Set list: 1. Kind To Me 2. I’m Not Jealous 3. Who Do You Think You Are 4. Diamond Ring 5. Say It To Me 6. Keep A Close Eye On Me 7. Ghost Town 8. Tenderheart 9. Love Her For A While 10. Sacramento (Michaela Anne cover) 11. All My Life 12. Keep It Interesting 13. Trouble 14. Hole Down In My Heart 16. One Night At A Time (George Strait cover) Performance date: Sunday 23rd July 2017