"Take me back down where the cool water flows," sang CCR's John Fogerty back in the late 1960s, "and let me remember the things I don't know. " If there's ever been a better statement of purpose for outsider country music, I haven't heard it. For so many non-Southerners enamoured of the locations, tropes and characters that drive country songwriting, if you wanted to join in you had to remember things you didn't know.
With the recent emergence of artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Sarah Gayle Meech, and Angaleena Presley, we appear to be witnessing a resurgence of a type of country music that takes its bearing from traditional forms without slavishly aping them. Add newcomer Sam Outlaw to the list. Outlaw (his mother’s maiden name, which he’s taken for performance purposes) calls his version “SoCal country,” but it’s not the Telecaster twang of Bakersfield; it comes with an accent on the mellow and the melancholy that starts with the sound of his voice.