Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Darrell Scott: A Distracted Review

The first line of the first song on this album is "In the early morning hours ..." and that's what Darrell Scott's voice always reminds me of. I haven't done a statistical analysis but alot of his songs seem to be set in the early A.M, heavy with brooding and the kind of harsh introspection that time of day brings. Especially if its 3am and you've had six beers and Italy have just scored a winning penalty in the 94th minute and ... talk about harsh introspection in the early hours. Anyway. No more soccer in this review I promise. Country Music and Soccer: The Connections, a post for another day.

Where was I? Darrell Scott. Yes. Let me start again. Many of you will know of Darrell Scott as Guy Clark's longtime sideman. And many of you will know his songs, which have been hits for a lot of folks. He's a killer multi-instrumentalist, Grammy winning songwriter with a hell of a voice and an independant spirit. That's the short version. For the long version, start with his first solo outing Family Tree, if "The Hummingbird" and "My Father's House" aren't two of the finest autobiographical songs you'll ever hear, then I'm Pele. (Oops)

Larry feels the album is over-produced and Nashvillian, he might want to expand on that but if he hadn't mentioned it I can honestly say those adjectives wouldn't have occured to me. It's true there are reverbs, echos, overdubs, backup singers, voice alteration and production trickery here and there, but to me it never sounds forced or unnatural. It's his versatility and willingness to explore in his solo work that makes him an attractive musical character to me. He brings depth to the country folk sounds of Guy Clark and does his one-take old timey collaborations with Tim O'Brien and others and if he wants to stretch his legs a bit in the studio, I'm all for it. So, this is not a front porch acoustic affair but I have a low tolerance usually for too much production busy-ness and I like these sounds. Your mileage will obviously differ.

The songs on The Invisible Man chart alot of the same territory as previous Scott albums. Every mirror is an opportunity to look at your face and see all the mistakes made, the silence of your house at night just makes the ghosts speak louder. Even when he sings about his wife and children, Darrell Scott is always a solitary figure in his songs, an everyman struggling though with "a song in my head and my head in a song."

But there is also a balance in his songs: that introspection and musing about past mistakes but with an anthemic payoff that things are generally alright, or will be. Or can be. A couple of songs dabble in politics with some effectiveness. I don't know that there are any stone cold classics on this album, but the quality I think is uniformly above average and follow on from each other as a theme. Listen while driving the highway at sunset or at dawn in the dark, in a mood to face your demons.

Crossposted at HickoryWind

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