Country singer Sam Outlaw has released an unconventional new project that combines songs with surreal vignettes. Dubbed Hat Acts, the EP opens with the sounds of a country bar and a woman in search of a smoking partner. That sets up the first of three songs: “Cigarette” is a weeper about addictive love that goes hand-in-hand with the EP’s final track, the equally forlorn “Humility.”
It’s Hat Acts‘ midpoint song, however, that shows off Outlaw’s gift for rollicking barroom fare. “Shake a Heartache” finds the Nashville (by way of California) songwriter hollering for whiskey, wine and cocaine to do their job and make him forget the romance that never was. Propelled by steel and Outlaw’s desperate vocals, it’s a 100-proof shot of adrenaline and attitude.
“I wanted to do something different with this album,” Outlaw said in a statement posted on his website. “Hat Acts is inspired by honky tonk scenes, hip-hop skits and of course — real life. This is a bit of a ‘concept album’ and I had a lot of fun putting it together.”
Outlaw is in a much better place than the character in his EP — on Friday night, he’ll make his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, performing on a lineup that includes Charlie Daniels and Vince Gill, and will launch an extensive European tour in September. Stream or buy the full Hat Acts EP on Outlaw’s Bandcamp page.