Music Reviews

The Shootouts score a bullseye with Quick Draw

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The Shootouts
Quick Draw
Megaforce Records

There are many good country bands that hail from Northeast Ohio, but none stand taller than Akron’s own The Shootouts. Ryan Humbert (lead vocals and guitar), Emily Bates (backing vocals), Brian Poston (lead guitar), Dylan Gomez (drums/percussion) and Ryan McDermott (bass) have put together one of the most unique, interesting and entertaining bands to come along in a long, long time. Originally conceived of as a “side-project” by Humbert and Potson, The Shootouts have grown into a force to be reckoned with on the local music scene, and are poised to take their brand of real country music to a broader national audience.

In an era where most newer bands put out EP’s with 4 or 5 tracks, The Shootouts took the bold step of releasing a full length studio album. And if you grew up listening to vinyl like I did, you know how some records were so good that they’d warp as a result of being played over and over and over again. Quick Draw, the band’s debut release, is that kind of album!

The Shootouts are a traditional Country and Western band reminiscent of the great Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart and Patsy Cline. Their music weaves together the sounds of Nashville, Texas and Bakersfield into an infectious fusion of Classic Country, Western Swing, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly and Americana that’s distinctly their own. The result is just downright fun to listen to. Great country music is about real life, the day-to-day moments that add color and meaning to our mundane everyday existence while going largely unnoticed. Quick Draw builds on these common experiences in spades.

The album starts with the toe tapping and finger snapping “Cleaning House” and moves right into the soulful and heartfelt “I’d Rather Be Lonely,” which anyone who’s ever been in love with that one special person can easily relate to. That’s how the rest of this 13 song masterpiece goes. It’s up, it’s down, it’s authentic and it’s real in the very best sense of the word.

The band’s musicianship is exquisite. Poston is literally a guitar god, picking more deftly than even Roy Clark might have done. His skills are particularly highlighted on the instrumental title track “Quick Draw.”

And the songwriting on the 9 original tracks is some of the best in recent country music history. While much of today’s pop country music has a vague sense of sameness, undoubtedly due in large part to the handful of publishing houses that dominate Music Row in Nashville, the songs of Humbert and his collaborators are refreshingly different. His lyrics have a depth that engages you to really listen. And the more you listen, the more you’re likely to relate. The song “California to Ohio,” which document’s the story of his grandfather hitchhiking across country to visit his wife and young child while in the military, is a case in point. Humbert answers the question that weighs heavily on the minds of most artists: can I make them feel what I feel, in the affirmative.

Even the 4 covers on the album are unique. They’re deep tracks which speak directly to the hearts of listeners. Shel Silverstein’s hilarious ode to marriage gone awry “Alimony” and Stacey Earle’s (Steve’s sister) timeless “It Must Be Love” immediately come to mind.

The bottom line is that there’s not a bad song on the album. This is all meat and no filler. If I had to describe The Shootout’s Quick Draw in a single word, it would be “refreshingly satisfying.” OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the point. Yes, Quick Draw is like nothing else that’s in your music library. And because of that it’s likely to be appreciated and revered for a long time to come. I hope my friends and acquaintances in country radio take notice and add this talented group of renegades to their play lists. They’re THAT good!

You can learn more about The Shootouts and order Quick Draw at: shootoutsmusic.com.

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