Four years ago, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers released their debut album Sidelong, which garnered attention around the world. Their 2018 follow-up, Years, received praise from publications such as Rolling Stone, No Depression, Relix, and the Wall Street Journal. ”This ain’t no country for hipsters or posers," said No Depression. “It’s real, raw, mean-and-evil-bad-an-nasty-bidness.”
With two albums under their belts, the world shut down due to the world-wide pandemic, forcing the band to sit on the next record for two years before feeling confident they could tour behind the album’s release. Nightroamer was worth waiting for, with the band’s recordings crying out to be heard, either in a Punk Rock hole, or a Honky-Tonk roadhouse.
Produced by Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam, The Mavericks, Lucinda Williams), Nightroamer takes the band into new territory hoped for by their fans. “I think this record is different than ones we’ve done in the past. It feels every bit expansive as I wanted it to feel,” says Shook. “I didn’t want there to be a shocking, jarring difference, but I definitely wanted it to feel like things are opening up. It’s a bigger feeling experience.”
Nightroamer opens with “Somebody Else,” a tune that tells a personal saga about unhealthy, abusive relationships that become emotionally and verbally abusive. “I had a revelation about myself, but I also had a revelation about abusers and how abusers operate. There’s kind of a double meaning in that song: If it’s not you, that person is going to find somebody else to abuse. And also, I realized my own pattern: If I’m not choosing this person to have a toxic relationship with, it’s going to be somebody else.”
“It Doesn’t Change Anything” has a Country-esque flavor offering empathy and intimate understanding, but it doesn’t offer answers. It’s about addiction and depression, and it’s holding place for somebody. It’s just saying, “I acknowledge what you’re going through and the battles that you’re facing are valid,” says Shook. Two deep tracks deserve some mention, as “I Got This” is exacting Punk Pop perfection, while “If It’s Poison,” features 1950s nostalgia plummeting into bass-driven, bone-rattling Psychedelic Rock.
“Music can be so healing,” Shook says. “I don’t know how people cope without having some kind of creative outlet for all the crazy things that happen to us.”
WXPN, WFUV, WDST, Colorado Sound, KEXP, WYEP, KBAC and WYEP are just a small sampling of the stations supporting Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, with the list growing.
Photo by Harvey Robinson