Sarah Shook & the Disarmers' debut album, Sidelong, tells the story of someone who wants to be left alone, but can't quite resist the glance of an admirer. That might, or might not, prove to be a bad move. Broken relationships and broken bottles inspire many of the songs on this collection.
Sidelong has the line: "I'd rather die all alone than settle for a liar." That headstrong attitude runs through a lot of these songs, even the ones where it seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
Shook says it's easier to find happiness when you let go of other people’s expectations.
“People put up with a lot of things that they shouldn’t. The need to belong with someone or be in a relationship is prioritized to sticking up for yourself.”
Shook says she's proud of the people she pulled together to make this record: Guitarist Eric Peterson, and singer John Howie, Jr. of the Rosewood Bluff convinced her to let him play drums.
"I had not seen him play drums before,” said Shook about learning he toured with punk bands in a previous life. “He said that he wanted to give it a shot... It was just a totally done deal after that first practice.”
Shook's single "Dwight Yoakam" about a lost love sounds like a classic country weeper the eponymous star might sing himself.
"It’s the only song ever written I cried the whole time I was writing it," Shook says.
"Usually, songwriting is a very cut-and-dry process. I sit down, my subconscious just throws everything—melody, lyrics—on a page, and it’s done in 15 minutes. And that song for some reason was just really emotional for me."
The track "Heal Me" is another plea for relief from heartbreak. Shook says her mother overcame an abusive childhood to raise and teach three daughters, and is an inspiration for her.
“I am very optimistic as far as the power of people to change,” Shook says.
Sidelong is out now.