The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

The Racers swept the Valparaiso Beacons in their last home series of the season. With these three wins the Racers move into a 34-18 record...

New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

The Racers swept the Valparaiso Beacons in their last home series of the season. With these three wins the Racers move into a 34-18 record...

The News Reviews: ‘Live on Mountain Stage: Outlaws and Outliers’

Live+on+Mountain+Stage%3A+Outlaws+and+Outliers+released+on+April+19%2C+offering+listeners+21+tracks.+
MacKenzie Rogers
Live on Mountain Stage: Outlaws and Outliers released on April 19, offering listeners 21 tracks.

“Live on Mountain Stage: Outlaws and Outliers” is an excellent compilation of Americana music that does justice to the radio program’s 40-year legacy.

The album collects live performances from Mountain Stage, a long-running concert series produced by West Virginia Public Radio Broadcasting and distributed nationally by NPR. While the show encompasses a wide range of genres, “Outlaws and Outliers” focuses on Americana music and roots-based, alternative country. The title is a reference to the Outlaw Country movement and other artists outside of mainstream country.

The album is a collaboration between Larry Groce, Mountain Stage’s founder, and Oh Boy Records, the independent record label founded by the late John Prine. Prine, one of the finest examples of the genre represented, appears on the album with a performance of one of his many masterpieces, “Souvenirs.”

Even while maintaining focus on a specialized genre, culling the back catalog of a show as prolific as Mountain Stage is a major task. I applaud the work of Groce and his team with the selections made. While there are plenty of my favorite artists absent from the tracklist, the album represents the range of Americana well. It also holds a nearly impossible distinction for an album with 21 songs all featuring different artists: there is not a single song I dislike.

The crown jewel of this collection is Tyler Childers’ “Going Home.” Unlike the majority of these tracks, the other exception being Wilco’s cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” there is no studio version of the song. Childers still performed the song at concerts as recently as 2023, and there are bootleg recordings on YouTube, but a professionally recorded version available on streaming services is very welcome. The song is teeming with the signature charm and humor of Childers’ older work.

Outside of that, the album offers live versions of songs that already have official studio versions on their respective artists’ albums. On that level, you get what you would expect from live versions of the songs: slightly different arrangements and deliveries, the energy of a live performance and audience response.

There are songs I’ve listened to countless times before like James McMurtry’s “Canola Fields,” Jason Isbell’s “Traveling Alone” and the previously mentioned Prine song “Souvenirs.” None of these live versions are revelations, but it’s always nice to hear another version of a song you love.

The real value of this type of album is discovery. As someone fairly steeped in the genre, I was familiar with almost every artist included here. Even still, there were plenty of moments on this album that surprised me.

One aspect of this is unique song choices. Steve Earle has appeared on Mountain Stage many times and has likely played a decent chunk of his catalog. Selecting an odd little deep cut like “You Know the Rest” adds another layer to the ‘outlier’ segment of the album title.

There are also instances where I learned about a completely different side of an artist. I was previously only aware of Kathy Mattea through her 1988 #1 country hit “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.” While I wouldn’t say that song is bad, it’s a pretty conventional ?80s country song. Her inclusion on this album, the folky and poetic “Red-Winged Blackbird,” couldn’t be further from that. 

The greatest discovery was an artist I’d never heard of before. The final track is Sam Baker’s “Isn’t Love Great.” It’s a beautifully written love song delivered by a voice with a tremendous amount of character. After researching Baker and learning about the physical obstacles he overcame to be able to function as a singer-songwriter, I felt even more of a pull to dig deeper into his discography. From the few songs I’ve listened to, he has the potential to become one of my new favorite artists.

“Outlaws and Outliers” will be a valuable experience for anyone interested in Americana music at any knowledge level of the genre. Its expert curation and variety lends itself just as well to introductory listeners as it does to diehard fans.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Ben Overby, Staff Writer
MacKenzie Rogers
MacKenzie Rogers, Lifestyle Editor
MacKenzie Rogers joined the staff of The News in Fall 2022. Rogers is a junior studying creative writing and journalism. She spends all her spare time reading, writing and playing video games.

Comments (0)

All The Murray State News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *