Outlaws & Moonshine arrived on the scene with their five song EP, 1919 in 2015. Now they're back with an album, Devil In The Moonshine, which includes five new songs and the five songs from the EP. The EP name '1919' refers to the inception of the prohibition in America - the legal prevention of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol. During prohibition, they made their own alcohol- enter, Moonshine. Moonshine is illegal; hence, to brew/drink/sell moonshine makes you an outlaw. Here endeth the history lesson. But quite a cool name for the band and it accurately predicts their style, a rollicking and intoxicating Southern hard rock party.
Kicking off with the pounding 'Country Proud', the album sets the bar high. This is a stonking beauty with mega catchy riffs, authentic southern rock with a funky acoustic slide guitar solo. The vocals are solid and have that too-many-JDs husky quality. I'm happy so far. The band describe the next track, 'Here Comes Bobby' as a song about brotherhood and loyalty. It's a singalong, rhythmic track, and fun - "Tell the devil it's me…" Love it! A key theme seems to be self-destruction and the slide guitar suits the mood perfectly. 'Don't Be Scared' has a heavier intro, and is a harder track all round, probably the heaviest on the album. This is an invigorating romp in the Deep South, and is one of my favourites on the album. I love the heavy riffs and catchy chorus. This is great rock. It's not very long though, you need it on repeat.
Ride or Die' has a thumping drum beat through it and the vocals are more refined, gentler, demonstrating that this guy can sing really well. I like the tone to Beau's voice here. And I take away the message that life is short so make the most of it! "I put my boots on one at a time, walk that country mile… and take a deep breath cos I made it out alive". 'Boom' is the last of the new material on the album and is Beau's idea of the perfect soul-mate. It’s the closest thing to a love song you'll find on here. I didn’t like this track as much as the others, I found it a little dated and predictable, but it's good to see another side to the band.
'Cootie Brown' apparently refers to a guy who lived smack bang on the line that divided the North and South during the American Civil War, making him eligible for military draft by either side; he had family on both sides so he didn't want to fight, and he decided to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration. This track is dedicated to drunken shenanigans and drinking (moon)shine from a mason jar... "He was the drunkest redneck around". It's fun, it's loud, it tells a story I want to hear. The track has a stronger bass than some of the others, and a beefy vocal. And I now feel like I've learned something historic. Job well done.
'Whiskey' does exactly what it says on the tin; it's an ode to all things whiskey. The intro is slower, tempting you into a ballad, but then the drums kick in at the one-minute mark, joined by a forcible guitar and those growling vocals. This is entertaining and highly-listenable. It's not deep and profound, but not everything has to be, does it? I do wonder if it shouldn’t be that little bit harder though, I'm not convinced he truly loves his whiskey.
'Hey Y'all' has an anthemic chorus which just begs for crowd participation. It's foot tapping, head nodding, good old southern rock at its best. This is the most enjoyable track on the album for me. I love it, and it sticks in your head. Don't try to sing it like Beau though, it hurts the throat if you're a lily-white English woman from Yorkshire; fun at the time though. The song took me straight to Texas. Hey y'all!
'Redneck Me' and 'Different Kind of Man' are the last tracks on the album. ‘Redneck Me’ is a melodic ballad with a lovely drawling southern vocal. The intro reminds me a bit of retro Bon Jovi - "I'm a cowboy…" I like this track but it's a little long for me. I love southern rock (and that Deep South accent; lush) and I want a little more passion from this track. ‘Different Kind of Man’ is a reliable song, nothing outstanding but enjoyable and solid, and a good closing track.
This album surprised me. I started out thinking maybe it was just another from the same stable but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I genuinely love Beau's voice, and I like the production, the theme, and the totality of the musicianship throughout. The band are from Indianapolis but wherever they get their Southern rock roots from sound pretty authentic. This is rock from the deep south and proud. The album has a good beat and rhythm section throughout, and the tracks are enjoyable and upbeat. Something tells me this is best listened to on a road trip, somewhere dusty and warm, with the top down. This is a southern hard rock album to be proud of. Buy it; I hope you like it as much as I did.
Label: Nemesis Records / Vanity Music Group
Beau Van - Lead vocals, Guitars
Mike Back - Guitars, vocals
Travis - Slide guitar
Chris Van - Bass, vocals
Eric Piper - Drums, percussion