Thursday, November 11, 2010

Darrell Scott - A Crooked Road (disc two)


Love’s Not Through With Me Yet opens with electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, and electric bass. Darrell Scott comes in with a vocal that it is full voice, and higher in his range than much of what we have heard before. By the chorus, there are drums and organ in the mix. Welcome to disc two of A Crooked Road.

This is the rock album. Granted, much of it would qualify as folk-rock. But this is a different approach to making music than we heard on disc one. Darrell Scott the rock singer doesn’t use the lower end of his range nearly as much, and there isn’t much breathiness in his voice. But he still is a very emotional singer who is never overwhelmed by the fuller and louder arrangements here. Actually, many of the songs are mostly quiet, with brief moments where they swell, but then turn soft again. The dynamic shifts are, in fact, one of the treats of disc two. Oh Sweet Longing is a fine example of this. The song is almost seven minutes long, and the percussion shows up briefly about half way through, and then subsides. The full band only returns at the end of the song, with a rideout that includes an electric guitar solo. All of this serves a lyric of longing, and the dynamic ebb and flow of the song suits the subject beautifully. Only Snow Queen and Drama Lama is an all-out rocker, with drums, bass, and two electric guitars in the classic rock line-up.

The lyrics on disc two are the other major shift. Where disc one’s songs mostly told stories, those on disc two capture a moment in time and take a snapshot of their narrator’s emotional state. Only Snow Queen and Drama Lama tells a story, and where the tales on disc one are more literal, this one is told in metaphor and symbolism. But for the snapshot approach, check out Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. Here, a couple have reached the point where their feelings have been blocked up for some time. The song captures them at the moment where they are breaking up, and their feelings become unblocked in a flood of emotion that comes too late to save the relationship. Everything from the musical setting to Scott’s vocal delivery captures this perfectly, and it’s powerful stuff.

Over the years, I’ve heard many artists who made beautiful mellow music, but who reached a point where they felt, or were told by their record label, that they had to beef up their sound, and it just didn’t work. Likewise, there are rock artists who have embarrassed themselves in search of a softer sound. On A Crooked Road, Darrell Scott has complete artistic control, and he shows himself to be the rare artist who can do mellow and rocking equally well. That he does this as both a writer and a performer is even more remarkable. And if the listener is only in the mood for one style or the other, A Crooked Road gives you the choice. Just make sure you get to both discs eventually. It’s well worth it.

Darrell Scott: Oh Sweet Longing