Despite their long history, Outlaws somehow were if not in the shadow of Southern Rock scene, than on the sidelines (for European fans at least). But I must admit that these guys made a lot for the scene. However, until now the band still perform and record the albums, no matter what, proudly carrying the banner of Southern Rock. And their new album Dixie Highway proves it one more time.
For the years of existence Outlaws changed their line-up repeatedly; in a matter of fact maybe that’s one of the reasons why this band is a bit less popular than legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, for example. At the moment there are only two members from the early line-ups in the band: vocalist/guitarist Henry Paul and drummer Monte Yoho. There are also Randy Threet (bass, vocal), Steve Grisham (guitar, vocal), Dave Robbins (keyboards, vocal) and Dale Oliver (guitar, vocal) in the band.
Dixie Highway starts from “Southern Rock Will Never Die”, a little bit sad and smooth song with two great solos. It’s some kind of hymn, homage to all passed musicians and the band’s attitude, if you will.
Next “Heavenly Blues” with “Overnight From Athens” and historical one “Lonesome Boy From Dixie” are going to some Country Rock territory: simple and unobtrusive melodies, rhythmical and laid-back, in a major key sometimes.
Like their comrades Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws are known for their “triple-guitar attack” and it is also fully presented in the album. In addition to the catchy riff, main song “Dixie Highway” is replete with various guitar solos. Same thing happens with “Dark Horse Run”, which starts slowly and gradually raises tempo; here the band added some keyboards solo to the guitars ones. And of course there is an instrumental “Showdown” that sounds like a good, fervent jam.
Two more songs also need to be mentioned: “Rattlesnake Road” and “Endless Ride”. The first one is a classy Blues Rock, simple and groovy, sounds like a ZZ Top song. “Endless Ride” for its part is the dark, buesy Country Rock with catchy chorus, which connotes with straight, smooth highways and some other road pictures of America. The song reminds Bon Jovi‘s “Dead Or Alive” a little bit, by the way, especially with its intro.
The album ends with “Windy City Blue”, written by passed bassist Frank O’Keefe in far 1972. Henry Paul unearthed this demo and the band rearranged the song with a proper respect. “…In a band with four strong songwriters, Frank’s contributions are conspicuously overlooked in Outlaws history.” Henry explains. “He was a sensational musician, an integral part of the group, and including his song on this record was the right thing to do. This is Frank O’Keefe’s curtain call.”
All in all, Dixie Highway is a typical Southern Rock album, just as good as its predecessors. It is quite straightforward and uncomplicated, but that’s why it is beautiful. It will sound great as a background, cheering you up but it will also gladly open up to you if you’ll take a closer look. It’s like a conversation of old but still strong men, which sit near you in the bar. This conversation can be a part of a chattering that makes the bar comfortable but if you’ll listen to it, you can find out lots of interesting things.
Dixie Highway was released on February, 28th via Steamhammer/SPV.
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