Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (NC)
When Sidelong, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ debut album, was released in early 2017, it quickly earned kudos for its blast of fresh, fierce, honesty, and sly wit. Hers was a welcome new voice in a genre too often mired in the staid and conventional. And while that record may have come to many as a surprise, Years solidifies the point: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it. The album, with its sharpened songwriting, unique perspective, deepened sound, and roll-up-your-sleeves attitude, will grab you by the collar and put a defiant finger to your chest. It is resolute, blunt, and unflinching.
Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track, colouring her tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep.
At its pounding heart, Years crackles with a pointedly contemporary and relevant take on the outlaw spirit. As Sarah herself tells it, “This record is about finding a way. A way through exhaustion, depression, betrayal, hangover after hangover, upper after downer after upper, fight after never-ending fight. It’s about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after years of being trampled and beaten down, jutting your chin out, head high after they’ve done their worst, and saying, ‘Still here.’ This record is shouting ‘*** you, I do what I want’ from the rooftops to the mother****ing cosmos.”