On the opening track to Sam Outlaw's peace-seeking new album Tenderheart, a mariachi band wanders into the picture, lending sunshine and cinema to a slowly waltzing meditation on the human condition. The song is Everyone's Looking for Home, a gentle tip of the hat and gesture of empathy from a SoCal cowboy and tall glass of water. Signed to Toronto's Six Shooter Records, the alt-country crooner sounds as though he might been raised on a diet of Jim Croce, Cat Stevens and Ryan Adams as much as any Bakersfield or Nashville jukeboxes. He's a barstool-based observer, making notes and looking for answers by watching others do the same. He seeks adventure and a story; he's a steel-guitar believer. And he gets you.
Sam Outlaw plays April 25, 8:30 (doors). $13.50. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 416-598-4226 or www.ticketfly.com