The variety of country music being released nowadays is staggering. Whatever you’re looking for it’s probably being made by some country artist out there. Well there is one kind of country music you don’t hear too often and something many old school country fans are clamoring for to come back: outlaw country. But as I said not a lot of artists make this brand of country anymore. You’re in luck though today. Meet Rick Elliot, a man who also wants to bring outlaw country music back. Elliot’s foray into becoming a musician began at an early age, taking an interest in the piano. It was at an early age he fell in love with country music and in his teen years he began to experiment with songwriting. The 18 year-old artist considers Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard his inspirations and heroes. After touring California for much of 2014, he’s now released his debut single “West of the Rockies.”
Right away when listening to this song you’ll realize Elliot wasn’t joking when he said he wants to make outlaw country music. The instrumentation sounds like it came straight out of the outlaw era days. The steel guitar and accordion drive the rhythm of the song, giving it that old western sound that’s been gone from country music for a long time. So in terms of the instrumentation of outlaw country, Elliot definitely nails it. Your ears will probably be taken aback by how old school the approach is, but after a few listens you’ll be right at home.
Elliot’s voice matches right up with the instrumentation, as well as the song itself. It’s a self-reflection song where Elliot sings about life past the Rocky Mountains, from everyday life to love to drinking. Elliot sings about a lifestyle not too many country artists today sing about and it’s great to hear a song with a western theme again. The song itself and the instrumentation is great, but it’s Elliot’s voice that impresses me the most. His voice is deep, has great presence and is mature beyond his years. I know this is a lofty comparison, but if you told me to listen to this song and didn’t tell me who the artist was, I would have guessed it was Haggard. I could definitely hear the Hag in Elliot’s voice at moments in the song, especially on higher notes.
If you would come up to me and tell me an 18-year-old country artist is making genuine outlaw country music, I would laugh in your face because I would believe it to be untrue. So many artists today rip off the name outlaw. But Elliot is not just another 18-year-old country artist. Elliot can make genuine outlaw country. From the first listen of this song I could see something special in him. He has all of the talent and skills to be a fantastic country artist. In other words, he has “it.” My only complaint is it’s only one song. I want to hear an album from Elliot. “West of the Rockies” is highly recommended. Keep an eye on Rick Elliot because he could be something special.
To preview and buy the song on iTunes, click here.
(Photo Courtesy: LaFamos)