Prior to the release of his debut, studio-length album Different ‘Round Here in 2019, he released a slew of EP’s that have some great music and deep cuts that are super underrated.
Y’all know I love to go back and reflect on different artists older stuff any time they have new music coming out. It’s probably weird, but I’m sentimental like that I guess. It happened when Eric Church released Heart & Soul, and it’s happening again today.
If you’re like me, and I suspect some of you reading this may relate to what I’m about to say, the first time you heard of Riley was when you heard “Bury Me in Dixie” years back… way before he ever had a record deal or moved to Nashville.
It must’ve been when I was in college, but I just remember a couple of my friends playing the song and it caught my attention immediately. I’d never heard someone describe what it was like to grow up in the south quite that way before.
If you switched out some of the names of different towns and teams, it really felt like Riley was singing about my hometown. He’s said before when he wrote it he was just trying to write a song about where he grew up in Alabama, and as time went on and he played it live, he realized he wrote a song about growing up in the south.
From there, I only got more and more into his music and his neo-traditional country sound that was seemingly impossible to find even a few years ago, notably in the mainstream.
Anyways, I decided to take a look back at his breakout EP from 2017, Outlaws Like Us, and rank all six songs from the project.
So without further ado, here’s how I’m ranking all the tracks from Riley’s Outlaws Like Us:
1. “Bury Me in Dixie”
Of course, this is the song that introduced me to Riley and has a special place in my heart. While it’s had a bit of controversy, the sentiment and true meaning of the song about appreciating where you come from and the place you call home, no matter who you are, is universal.
2. “That’s How Ya Left Me”
There was a solid month a few years ago where I legitimately listened to this song non-stop on repeat. It’s a stone cold country heartbreak song and I love it as much today as I did then. He describes all the ways this girl left him alone and how it really affected him… let’s be honest, break-up songs are his bread and butter and I love it.
Also, I just think this particular song shows off his vocals really well and he sounds great on it.
3. “When She Comes Home Tonight”
One of the rarer love songs in Riley’s catalog, it’s a super sexy track about him missing a girl during the day and counting down the minutes until he sees her again when she gets off of work. Really, I wouldn’t mind a few more songs like this from him.
He’s said before he likes to write about heartbreak and sadness, but he’s not too bad at these kinds, either.
4. “Numbers On The Cars”
To be honest, I think this is arguably one of Riley’s best songs. It’s about his late grandpa who had Alzheimer’s and how there’s certain things he just never forgot, like which drivers drove which cars in NASCAR. From a lyrical and subject matter standpoint, it’s as honest and authentic as they come. It really deserves more credit in the conversation of some of his best work.
5. “Outlaws Like Us”
Another tribute to where he’s from and the values he holds dear, Riley details how there’s not many men like him left. As a self-described “outlaw,” he drives home the point that though they may be a dying breed, there’s still a few of ’em left if you look in the right places.
6. “Man Like Me”
Now I know this one is in 6th, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I actually think it’s a really fun track with a different sound than we’re used to hearing from him. It’s along the lines of “Outlaws Like Us” and “Bury Me in Dixie” where he reflects on where he’s from and what shaped him into the man he is today.
And if you’ve heard him play it live before, you know how well it does to get people fired UP at a concert.