10. Sam Outlaw, 'Angeleno'
Los Angeles is no hotbed for country music, but it is a source of endless inspiration, if you know where to look. And Sam Outlaw, a former ad sales executive who ditched his gold card for a steady income of tip jar singles and a cowboy hat, certainly does. He pulls from California's Bakersfield past, the urban mariachi tradition of East L.A. and the broken fantasy of Hollywood life for Angeleno, the singer's Ry Cooder-produced debut. "Jesus take the wheel," sings Outlaw on the shuffling honky-tonk waltz of the same title, "and drive me to a bar" — there's plenty of weepy steel guitar here, but a sense of humor, too. After all, Outlaw knows he didn't grow up roping herds, but he proves on songs like "Angeleno" that there's a little bit of a restless cowboy in even the most diehard city slickers. M.M.