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Outlaws – Dixie Highway Award winner

Dixie Highway
by Gary Hernandez at 25 March 2020, 5:34 PM

Confession: I was born in the South (of the U.S.), I was raised to respect Southern values, and I listened to THE OUTLAWS debut album when it was new. For those who live outside of the U.S., Southern Rock may seem like a very specific era in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but it’s much more than that. Technically, it started in 1973 with the release of the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND’s “Brothers and Sisters,” peaked in the late 70’s, and has since waned but never died. Thematically, it’s a slice of Americana that speaks to core values of family, country, and an indefatigable spirit. And I guess it’s that last aspect that resonates with metal heads. So today, Metal Temple is going to afford some space for our cousins from the American South and offer up a review of the latest release from THE OUTLAWS.

Dixie Highway” is the 13th studio release from THE OUTLAWS (issued February 28, 2020). Over the years, more than 40 members have cycled through the band, so I’m not going to touch on line-up except to say that long-time fans will recognize Henry Paul (guitars, vocals) and Monte Yoho (drums, percussion) from the original 1973 formation. A bit of history: The Dixie Highway was an actual roadway that ran from Chicago, Illinois to Miami, Florida. It was replaced in the 1920’s, but remnants still exist in Florida. If you think on that a minute — the geographies, literal and figurative, that the roadway spans; the musical influences it crosses; the changes it has seen even during its own transformation — then roll it up into one thing, you’ve captured the spirit of this album. Every song on the album is a metaphoric representation of journeys and destinations the band has experienced and which most living, breathing listeners will be able to relate to.

Now on to the music. Despite the line-up changes, the three-guitar attack, the clean vocal harmonies, and heartfelt lyrics remain signature marks of the band. The album kicks off with “Southern Rock Will Never Die,” an anthem that salutes fallen Southern Rock icons and underscores a central theme to the album. The second track, “Heavenly Blue,” is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s a re-imagining of the original, which was released on their third album, “Hurry Sundown.” The vocals are raw and carry an unrehearsed vibe to them and the solos are sweet and soul-wrenching. It’s like LUCERO meets the ALLMOND BROTHERS BAND. Other standout tracks include “Dixie Highway,” an instant classic that will resonate with anyone who has faced life’s challenges; “Overnight from Athens,” a bright blast of nostalgia; “Showdown,” a crisp instrumental that showcases the bands significant talents; “Windy City’s Blue,” probably the heaviest track with deep, bluesy grooves and fast-tempo solos; and, of course, “Macon Memories,” which, like the opening and title tracks, taps into the core of the album, the band, and the genre.

As I researched and wrote this review, I listened to the full album for probably the ninth time. A lot was going through my head. Again, I was born and raised in the South and, though I have lived all over the world, I have deep connections to that particular region. After the album timed out, my player rolled on to the next OUTLAWS album in my library — yep, the 1975 debut. Listening to those initial notes of “There Goes Another Love Song” brought back a flood of memories which continued all the way to the ending chord of “High Tides and Green Grass.” Then it struck me that the “The Dixie Highway” really did bridge those 45 years, and what a great trip it has been.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Southern Rock Will Never Die
2. Heavenly Blues
3. Dixie Highway
4. Overnight from Athens
5. Endless Ride
6. Dark Horse Run
7. Rattlesnake Road
8. Lonesome Boy from Dixie
9. Showdown (Instrumental)
10. Windy City’s Blue
11. Macon Memories
Henry Paul - Guitars, Vocals
Monte Yoho - Drums, Percussion
Dale Oliver - Guitar, Vocals
Randy Threet - Bass, Vocals
Dave Robbins - Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Grisham - Guitar, Vocals
Jaran Sorenson - Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Steamhammer Records


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