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Roughened sound underscores Shook's appeal

Zebulon, Los Angeles, April 4, 2022

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Sarah Shook and their band the Disarmers played to a small club on a Monday night in support of the album "Nightroamer." Shook is more tough than fainting flower, but their roughened sound was quite appealing when set against a band with a guitarist, bassist, drummer and steel guitar player.

Shook doesn't talk a whole bunch when performing, but mainly just sticks to the business at hand. While a song like "Dwight Yoakam," which cries over a partner that left for someone that sings just like Dwight Yoakam, is slow, sad and tavern-ready. However, "Talkin' to Myself," from the new album, rocked loudly, kinda like Joan Jett fronting AC/DC. It proved how Shook also knows their way around rock and roll, as much as country.

Shook played a lot of material from the strong new album. "Been Lovin' You Too Long" is not that classic Otis Redding soul song, but a slow-burner rock song with a guitar riff that sounds like a breaking guitar string. "No Mistake" thumped along more traditionally, like Johnny Cash Sun Record. The album's title track, however, is a slow and sad tune, saturated in lovely steel guitar.

Shook was preceded by Ryan Cassata, who filled the room with enjoyably folk-ish sounds. Cassata's band included a fiddle player, which gave some of the more urgent songs an early U2 vibe. Cassata is an openly transgender musician, and many of his songs addressed life's ups and downs. Some of his songs featured Cassata playing harmonica, which further upped the folk music sound ante. Cassata's application of folk music as protest music, framed him in a long tradition of artists using that style to further social/political movements.

One really good thing about Monday night shows, is that these mainly draw only the true diehards. Novices don't usually club on a weeknight. These exceptional music fans were treated to some equally exceptional music, which made it worth losing just a little sleep before the next workday.

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