Sugar Hill Records, Inc.
P O Box 55300
Durham, NC 27717-5300
A review written for The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Henry Koretzky
It's always fun to go through one's CD collection and cobble together a tape anthology of favorite tracks. Then along comes Darrell Scott's first recording, Aloha from Nashville, to spoil the fun. All the cuts on it are so good, how can I choose a favorite?!
It may seem that Scott came out of nowhere to make this recording, but his fellow musicians have been aware of him for years. He's been a bandmember of groups led by Texas songwriting ace Guy Clark and by former Newgrass Revival frontmen Sam Bush and John Cowan. Aloha from Nashville shows that Darrell Scott has the songs and the spirit to stand front and center himself.
Do you like songs drawn from American musical idioms? Try the rollicking western swing opener Head South (complete with "Ah-Hah!" a la Bob Wills) or the bluesy interplay between Scott's dobro and Sam Bush's mandolin on It's the Whiskey That Eases the Pain. Are you drawn to compositions that take a no-holds-barred look at some hard luck stories? Try his stark Appalachian saga You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive or the plaintive portrayal of a struggling single mother, Life Is Cheap. Maybe you like contemporary takes on traditional icons. Give a listen to Banjo Clark, a fleshing out of the life story of Old Joe Clark (and a song already covered by Sam Bush on his excellent Glamour And Grits CD), or the outrageously "jazz noir" approach to The Ballad of Martha White. Perhaps you just want to be able to laugh out loud. You'll get your chance with the sly quips of Spelling Bee Romance and the recording's closer, a parody of boot-scootin' sell-outin' Top 40 contemporary country called The Title of the Song.
What did I leave out? Did I mention the gorgeous sadness of Heartbreak Town, a portrayal of a certain songwriter's frustrations in Nashville, or the anti-blues jauntiness of It's a Great Day to Be Alive, or Sam Bush's Cream-y "Crossroads" quotes on the offbeat I Wish? I hope you don't take my word that Darrell Scott's debut recording conjures up favorable comparisons to Lyle Lovett, John Prine, or Gillian Welch. Aloha from Nashville is a dazzling inaugural performance filled with pleasant musical surprises from start to finish. Check it out yourselves, and join me in waiting for his next recording.
Edited by Kerry Dexter