If the first single from Sam Outlaw’s new album Tenderheart was about finding your own definition of home, the follow-up, “Trouble,” is about learning who to kick to the curb. An ode to the enablers, “Trouble” takes a John Mellencamp-esque groove and carries it into the softer, SoCal country niche Outlaw has cleverly carved.
“I think one of the main through lines was the heart,” Outlaw tells Rolling Stone Country about the songs that comprise Tenderheart. “I do a lot of analyzing of where I’m at. On my worst days, I give into fear, and I become someone else. On my better days, I’m making decisions out of tenderness and love. There’s so much more risk to that, but it’s the only way I want to live. ‘Trouble’ is actually the toughest song on the record.”
“Trouble” leans a little more into Outlaw’s heartland rock inclinations, touching on another one of his main influences: Tom Petty. Like Petty’s “The Waiting,” the song is centered on the clap-along thump of percussion instead of the steel guitar wail or mariachi horns that populate much of Outlaw’s work. “I’m a massive fan of Petty,” he says. “He does rock that is tough, but has a softness to it.” It’s an approach the Los Angeles-residing singer has made his own calling card – he’s never concerned about being too emotional, sweet or, well, tenderhearted.
Tenderheart is out April 14th on Six Shooter Records.