PROPHETS AND OUTLAWS
Seven Set Jam Records
Although the members of Prophets and Outlaws have only been making music together since 2011, the Dallas-based five-piece is now five releases deep into its recording career. At its best, their latest EP, simply titled V, is clearly the work of a crack band able to grab hold of a groove with authority and turn it into an imminently butt-shakable tune. But there’s a crystalline polish here that robs the songs of much of the soul that frontman Matt Boggs is trying to wring out of his voice. The sing-along songs are certainly up to the task of floating block party kegs, yet the slower tunes overreach their grasp when aiming for a hearty gut-punch.
Over the course of their time as a touring and recording outfit Prophets and Outlaws have positioned themselves as a R&B-tinged alternative to the standard country styling that populates most of the Texas music landscape. On the groove-intensive “We’re Gunna Make It” and the roadhouse-appropriate “Party Like This” — a solid tune where you can smell thick cigarette smoke and feel the buzz you get after your first shot and beer of the night — the band mines its rock influences in order to channel its more urban urges to a fun degree. But in “Outlaw Like Me,” a slow burner where Boggs noticeably strains, and the organ-enriched but plodding “Lonely,” the group is caught telling us how soulful it is rather than coming across as actually soulful. Doubtless all of that stuff comes across a lot more convincing in a live setting, and overall the band’s drifting towards a more neo-soul horizon is both welcome and intriguing. But judging by the hit-and-miss nature of this particular EP, these Prophets and Outlaws — seasoned players though they may already be — still have a ways to go before fully living up to their name and potential and truly setting themselves apart from the rest of the Texas music scene. — KELLY DEARMORE