Revelations: A New Album from Sarah Shook & the Disarmers

River Shook, the songwriter and lead vocals for the band, shares their inspiration for record that explores sobriety and depression.
By Josh Klahre

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, are out with Revelations dropping on March 29th and in the nicest way possible, they couldn’t give a damn what you think of it. 

River Shook, the band’s leader, has a pugnacious public image, cast as a rough-and-tumble outlaw who won’t take guff from anybody (see: the all-black ensemble, nose ring, tattoos and liberal use of expletives). But in conversation, it’s clear that they are more concerned about baring their soul through song, or, as they say, “telling it like it is by being honest and transparent with what I’m up to.”

Revelations, out March 29, is the fourth release from the band, and offers the authentically raw and rollicking sound that has delighted fans of their live performances. Most of the songs were written on the road, says Shook, “in the van and in hotel rooms and on curbs and parking lots late at night.” It’s an intimate album, an about-face from the more polished sound from the band’s last album, Nightroamer, and there’s a more self-assured and uninhibited voice from Shook. As the chief songwriter, Shook packs the album with songs that chart their journey through self-discovery, finding sobriety, battles with depression and the complexities of human interaction as an “extreme introvert.” 

“I am a writer who goes through life collecting experiences and then at some point my subconscious lines everything up and it’s all there,” they say. “Despite my best efforts, I’m very much an I must be moved to write a song kind of songwriter.”The lyrics are packaged in Shook’s irreverent snarl, over a chugging rockabilly beat and a glorious melodic tangle of pedal steel and six-string guitars. “One of the things I really love about Revelations is that when I listen to those songs, you can hear the confidence. It’s like, I know who I am,” Shook says. “I’ve gone through the first few years of sobriety where you’re figuring out where you fit in the world. The message is twofold: be yourself, but also work to be better.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of WALTER Magazine.