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             Released in America last year to some acclaim, Scotty Alan’s new solo album has recently received its UK release and this former punk rocker from Upper Peninsula, Michigan will, I’m sure, be making friends over here on the back of it. Marrying a country/folk vibe to a punkish energy, these fifteen songs chart the progress of a relationship that didn’t work out. Opening with the “goodbye” song, Scotty winds back to the days when it all looked good, finding along the way that there were always signs that this wasn’t going to work out. He’s sad, he’s confused, but if he’s bitter he only allows himself to express it for comic effect (“next time I fall in love, I’m gonna do it alone”). Rather these songs are written in the spirit of the chorus to Was it Ever?. “Was it me/was it you/was it there/ was it true/ was it ever” he asks, and the whole cycle of songs is all about investigating how it all happened and how it all went wrong.

              Scotty sings in an appealing rasp that sounds remarkably Irish at times – shades of The Pogues or The Waterboys linger unexpectedly, especially when David Lindley’s fiddle playing is to the fore. Scotty’s voice is strong enough and distinctive enough to hold the centre of attention but this is a fully worked out production from Bernie Larsen (it was a bit of a trek from Michigan to LA to get this record made) and there’s a whole host of instrumentation fleshing out Scotty’s songs: organ, accordion, mandolin, slide guitar and piano (from Ian McLagan!) all find their place, and there’s a generous dose of backing vocals to boot. This record sounds best at it’s most upbeat, the old punk still enjoying it best when he can put some bounce into the performance. Your Hero? combines the energy and the folk style nicely (very Waterboys), whilst the most irresistible song is Ain’t Much, its heart-on-his-sleeve charm and rockabilly bounce hanging round just long enough to leave you wanting more. The finest song, though, may be Barn Dance; it’s a long song by his standards but marrying the state of the relationship to the drawing in of winter in Michigan gives the song a broader reach that works really well. David Lindley’s fiddle and the rolling epic nature of the song again strongly invites Waterboys comparisons but I’m not complaining about that. This is truth, honesty and entertainment all wrapped up in one package, and it’s rather good.

John Davy

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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