I’m going to give you a phrase that will sound like an oxymoron, but is as real and necessary as the sun rising in the east every morning — LA Country. No, not Louisiana Country; we’re talking City of Angels Los Angeles, California … country music.
At the forefront of that movement infusing sounds into traditional country music that some will definitely feel are more suited for a biker bar or a hip west coast bar is Sam Morrow. To only catch a quick soundbite of a few songs here or there from Sam’s March 30 release of Concrete and Mud may lend credence to that short sided view, but I can wholeheartedly assure you that a record of this magnitude is deserving of an honest, no preconceived ideals, earbuds in, listen.
Upon hearing the first track, “Heartbreak Man”, a few weeks ago, I rambled out loud on Instagram that it sounded like Sam traveled back in time to a 70s country roller derby bar, bottled up the sound and a bit of grime off the floor and brought it back with him. While I still stand by my quick glimpse of that song, I’m now the proud owner of a much deeper and respectful appreciation of what Sam has accomplished with this record from front to back.
The layers present on songs like “Quick Fix”, “Paid By The Mile” and “Skinny Elvis” produce some of the most unique sounds so beautifully melding into each other as easily as an ice cube melts in a glass of whiskey. If I had a phrase better suited to describe Sam’s “old school funky tonk” I’d share it, but seeing that it doesn’t exist, we’ll go ahead and stick with his.
Wrapping the funk in it’s arms and laying down some soulful rhythm that many will find that they’re more accustomed to are” “San Fernando Sunshine”, “Coming Home” and Mississippi” that pair violin, mandolin and steel guitar as proficiently as any artist who’s graced the Opry’s famed stage.
As experimental as Sturgill, rockin’ as Skynyrd, with a side of Earth, Wind and Fire to lay the groove, Sam Morrow’s Concrete and Mud will have your attention cemented firmly to his unique LA Country sounds.