With Making Tracks, The Outlaw Orchestra have proven they’ve grown up and done so, so chuffing quickly it brings a tear to your eye. From the debut album Pantomime Villains to Making Tracks in such a short time, that is a huge step.
Opening track ‘Done My Time’ is simply the best track they’ve ever created; until the next best track appears which coincidentally also happens to be on this album.
The bands trademark sense of fun is still here throughout, even in the more mature songs. They’ve grown up but with a glint in their eye and the devil in their swagger. The lyrics are still wonderful, down to earth, lamenting, thought-provoking, funny and daft…you never lose your daft no matter how mature you become. (So I’m told)
Making Tracks isn’t all about the lyrics though, the musicianship has been upped several notches too. Stunning banjo, guitar licks to die for and lap steel and slide moments that literally make your fur stand up. Add to this Dave’s lovely familiar vocal and the beautiful addition of Trish Burke (heard all too fleetingly on the debut album) and there’s even Pete stepping away from the lap are pushing themselves.
We have here an album that brings a great mix of everything that makes The Outlaw Orchestra who they are and it shows where they want to be. Blues to open with but they don’t get tied down with that track and that flavour of music. There are 11 tracks in total that show the scope and depth they have and where they are heading.
‘Rolling Stone’ a song about Dave’s late dad who toured with The Beatles but was actually a Stones fan, aren’t we all at heart? It paints a great picture, one of Dave’s great strengths with his lyrics. He’s able to take us all with him and be a part of what he’s thinking, of what he’s singing.
Of course an ‘Outlaw’ album wouldn’t be complete without at least one ‘getaway music’ track and if you ever find yourself out on the lamb and in need of go faster music, ‘Enough About Me’ should be your track of choice. All those comments about lyric writing and humour stand front and centre on this track, a song instigated by a quote from none other than Barbara Streisand. This is beaming smile music…feel-good music…smile and feel-good whilst making your getaway obviously.
There’s still plenty of familiar ground to be found amongst the 11 tracks and songs feel warm and cosy and as ‘Outlaw’ as they come at times but to underline their maturity and how much they’ve stretched their wings you need look no further than two very different tracks. The lilting, lamenting and beautiful “Sea Legs” and the epic “Blame it on the Horse”
With Sea Legs you can picture an old dog recalling tales to a captive audience, sharing precious moments and adventures with family and friends and not too unhappy with how life has panned out. I must confess I found this song quite touching on a very personal level.
‘Horse’ on the other hand is no short sharp shock of a song, no upbeat getaway music and no wistful memory jerker.
This is the ‘Outlaw’s’ most epic song to date and kudos to them for having the imagination, foresight and the bravery to do a track that comes in at just shy of 7 minutes. This song shows every band member at their very best. The rolling thunder of Ryan’s wonderful drums throughout drive the song along with such power. The stunning guitar solo from Dave over the top of his own beautiful acoustic playing, Pete‘s spine tingling lap steel and the haunting voice of Trish lifting the track to another level. On top of this are the wonderful lyrics and construction of the song…from the opening line of “Lost it all on Tennessee Hero, dressed to the nines, a proper De Niro” you are instantly drawn into the story and the ride on this horse is several shades of wonderful leading up to the wonderful, glorious, almost tangible pause…forcing you to lean forward…desperate for it to end, longing for the next bit…
It’s a beautiful relief when the music finally kicks in again after what seems like an age and then there’s that outro. Oh that chuffing beautiful outro. An outro that has echoes of the Eagles at their best, of Neil Young at his best…of…well, The Outlaw Orchestra…at their best and all grown up.
Making Tracks is grown up Southern blues; Country rock with swagger.
This is a band that knows what they want, where they want to be and how to get there.
If you can’t tell, I love this album: To Quote ‘Enough About Me’ this is a 12 on a 10 scale
Roll on ‘Impossible third album’