Becoming a Better Version of Themselves: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers

One of the best things about conversations are the pleasant surprises they can reveal. Taking from previous experience with Sarah Shook — being familiar with their aesthetic, having listened to all of their music and having been an emcee at a Disarmers show — I was not expecting some of what came up in our interview. On the surface, one sees tattoos, steely gaze and a nose ring, hears a swagger and sneer in songs like “Stranger”, “If It’s Poison” and “Heartache In Hell”, and could get the impression that these portray the whole story. But there is much more to Sarah Shook than their veneer. There is a complexity, subtlety and vulnerability to Sarah that is, well, a bit disarming.

Album art for Nightroamer by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers

In this episode, Sarah Shook talks about everything from the evolution of sound in their new album Nightroamer, their road to sobriety, how Southern culture is reflected in their music, how things we might think that negatively affect just the LGBTQ+ community also extend to everyone else, and more. Plus we drop in on songs from Nightroamer, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ third collection, which maintains their trademark sound while also bringing it forward into some new territory with producer Pete Anderson at the helm. 

Songs heard in this episode:

“Been Lovin’ You Too Long” by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, from Nightroamer

“Nightroamer” by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, from Nightroamer, excerpt

“I Got This” by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, from Nightroamer, excerpt

“Believer” by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, from Nightroamer, excerpt

“Please Be A Stranger” by Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, from Nightroamer

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Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on WNCW, and to Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it. – Joe Kendrick