Alabama 3 - Outlaw
Review by Jack Foley
ALABAMA 3 probably still remain best-known for being the outfit behind the theme tune to The Sopranos on TV (Woke Up This Morning).
Yet as evidence of what to expect from their music, it’s actually quite enticing, given that Alabama 3 remain one of the most overlooked acts of the moment, capable of blending American folk with country, hip-hop and techno – and that’s not bad for a collective from Scotland!
Their latest album, Outlaw, is their fourth and sets out to romanticise Britain’s famed criminals in the same way that American country music celebrates its history of gunslingers and gamblers.
Hence, tracks such as Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds?, pay talking-blues lip service to the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery, while former single, Hello… I’m Johnny Cash does exactly what it says on the label.
Both contain the trademark sound of Alabama 3, setting folk and country-tinged guitars around some pretty persuasive beats, scratches, breaks and mouth-organs, while injecting a great deal of their own quirky humour to boot.
What’s more, the boys have recruited the likes of BJ Cole, MC Tunes, Gary Lucas, from The Magic Band, and Bruce Richard Reynolds himself to contribute to the 12 tracks enclosed.
Highlights include the opening track, Last Train to Mashville, which opens with a gospel chant, before exploding to life with an urgent, scuzzy beat.
It is quickly followed the slide guitar overload of Terra Firma Cowboy Blues, with its lazy beats, violin solos and deep, drooling vocals.
Better still are the laidback riffs of Adrenaline, one of the more chilled out tracks on the long-player, which serves to showcase the band’s ability to change pace.
Likewise, How Can I Protect You, the most mainstream effort on the album, which contains a genuinely catchy chorus and a foot-tapping vibe that should easily deliver some form of chart success (should it be released). It screams of desperation at the state of ‘this crazy world’, but rates among the most uplifting efforts on the long-player.
Gospel Train brings matters to a close in suitably blissful fashion, incorporating yet more feel-good beats, deep vocals and gospel backing, that recalls the chilled out vibe surrounding the likes of Jack Johnson.
All of which makes Alabama 3’s Outlaw an album that’s well worth catching soon.
1. Train intro
2. Last Train to Mashville
3. Terra Firma Cowboy Blues
4. Keep your shades on!
5. Hello… I’m Johnny Cash
6. Up above my head
8. Have you seen Bruce Richard Reynolds?
9. Honey in the rock
10. How can I protect you
11. Let it slide
12. Gospel Train