Veteran rockers Outlaws, for non-American music fans at least, have tended to be peripheral figures on the Southern Rock scene. Whilst names like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet and .38 Special will always be synonymous to the genre, Outlaws, for whatever reason, often seem to get left out when the dispatches from the genre’s glory days are read.
That’s a crying shame, to be sure; perhaps now that the field is open a little wider is the time for the band to shine a little beyond the purview of their fans that live up and down the length of the real-life Dixie Highway… This album of that very same name is certainly worthy of worldwide recognition!
Gathered around founding member Henry Paul, this iteration of the Outlaws is on top form throughout this record. Although nothing extends much over six minutes in length, there are plenty of epic three-pronged guitar workouts to enjoy here, and if nothing lives up to Freebird, or Diary of A Working Man, or even The Outlaws’ own classics like Green Grass and High Tides and Hurry Sundown, then songs like Dark Horse Run and Rattlesnake Road are certainly of a high enough calibre to get old Southern heads nodding wherever they happen to be domiciled.
In fact, every song features some great guitar work; the afore-mentioned Rattlesnake Road in particular is a country-rocking, axe-blazing tour de force, whilst Lonesome Boy From Dixie is the obligatory Civil War tale topped off by fleet-fingered fretwork and anthemic vocalising. All the Southern rock tropes are present and correct, for sure, but whilst the formula may be tried and tested the music here never feels old or rehashed.
Long term fans will be interested in the reworking of Heavenly Blues, a Paul song from 1977’s Hurry Sundown opus, and the appearance of a previously unreleased – and quite superb- song from (sadly deceased bassist) Frank O’Keefe, Windy City’s Blue, but this is really an album that’s as much about fresh starts and new beginnings as it is about honouring the past, and us such is an exciting and unmitigated success. Required listening for Southern rock fans everywhere.
Dixie Highway is out on February 28th.