Review – Bo Outlaw & Løiten Twang Depot’s “Bars-Brunettes-Big Rigs”

#510.3 and #510.9 (Hard Country, Truck Driver Country) on the Country DDS.

If you’re looking for some hard-charging, hard-twangin’, old-fashioned truck drivin’ honky tonk music, Bo Outlaw and Løiten Twang Depot kick in like a handful of truck stop Mini Thins, helping you get through a long haul, a hard day, or a devastating heartbreak. Whether you’re a gear jammin’ diesel choking daddy or a roadhouse dream with curves fit for a mud flap, Bars – Brunettes – Big Rigs will be right down your alley.

If it wasn’t for me telling you or the funky slash through the ‘ø’ in their name, you would be none the wiser that Bo Outlaw & Løiten Twang Depot weren’t from Tennessee or south Alabama. Listening to their new album, you’re bound to believe they hail from right here in the red-blooded United States as opposed to across the Atlantic. But sure enough, this outfit makes its home base in Norway instead of Nashville.

Norway, Sweden, and the entirety of Scandinavia has been a hotbed for traditional country music for many years now, both as an import and an export. Bjørn Flaaseth, a.k.a. “Bo Outlaw” takes the business of making country music seriously, as does the rest of the Løiten Twang Depot outfit. They may not be from the deep South, but they’re well-studied in the modes of country music, have traveled and recorded in the United States before, and show curious skill at the art of making country.

Sure, Bo Outlaw doesn’t sound like the second coming of George Jones, but who does? And though some of the sentiments may get a little lost in the translation, it’s also hard to not be impressed with what Mr. Outlaw pulls off here with his original songwriting. Meanwhile, the steel and lead guitar on this album is so tasty, it easily meets or surpasses what you’re used to hearing from ’70s-inspired country bands stateside.

Bars – Brunettes – Big Rigs was recorded in an all analog studio to tape, with no digital enhancements or studio hijinks. It goes without saying some suspension of disbelief is necessary here, but that’s required with about every throwback country band these days. What’s important is the passion and the talent to play good country music that comes across in truck driving songs such as “Chick Inspector” and “Trucker’s Shuffle.” This isn’t truck driving country in total, but that is what sets the table.

Where you’re really left impressed is with their version of Johnny Paycheck’s “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised,” originally written by Wayne Kemp, Bobby Borchers, and Mack Wickery. It’s not easy to take a song that’s so recognizable to Outlaw country music fans and kill with it. It’s on this track that the musicianship of the band really stands out.

And though Bars – Brunettes – Big Rigs is meant to be a good time, in the final few songs, the band and Bo Outlaw’s writing really shows some depth to make the listening experience well-rounded. “Country Strong” gives the album its love song. “Tyin’ Your Laces” has some of the tastiest guitar licks in the entire record. And the elongated “Kentucky Bourbon” ends the album with unexpected depth of both story and composition.

Country music is for everyone, and can be from anywhere as long as the artist has a true love for country music in their hearts. Bo Outlaw & Løiten Twang Depot have definitely been bit by the country music bug, and it’s to the benefit of us all.

1 3/4 Guns Up

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