Most people have no idea how hard it is to write, to get the proper alignment of words to say precisely what you want and in a way others can get it. Lyrics are the one side of songwriting that can stop a great tune dead in its tracks, and when you find someone who can overlay words on music as if they belonged, you watch them. So will I be watching this newcomer, Scott Urgola, who is so obviously a Bob Dylan devotee, and slave to the lyric.
Restoration Lullaby itself mirrors in places what Dylan used to be, though only in raw fashion at this point. Urgola's voice has that Dylan backslide, that who-o-o- which slides from note to note, unclean but sometimes necessary to the feel of the song; his lyrics on the whole paint the picture with germane brush stroke; his music so indisputably part of who he is.
Urgola is a man in search of himself here and that's not necessarily a bad thing. He brought thirteen representations of himself into the studio and allows us to pick and choose. One real winner, to my ears, are They Won't Take Me, on which Urgola plucks a very basic banjo beneath his slightly Dylanesque voice until the chorus fills the sound with funereal organ, full acoustic chords and harmony vocal. The use of organ catches me by surprise every time, it mirroring the chorus of Emily Wells' excellent Fountain of Youth from her Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks album and amazingly capturing a similar emotional tone. Phil Ochs could have written Miss America in his later years, a little more folk rock than protest folk though the biting lyrics are effective aplenty. And the lyrics and presentation of My God bring back the pre-Like a Rolling Stone folk era very well indeed.
The really good thing is that, though Urgola displays an innate reverence for the Dylan aura in his music, he does not allow it to overpower him. One gets the sense that after a few more folk festivals and coffeehouse performances, he will get to where he wants to be. He's pretty close now, but something tells me that he will always be a work in progress. Not musically, but personally. And I don't see him separating his music from the trials and tribulations of the world, or his own, anytime soon.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles