Aloha From Nashville
Darrell Scott
Sugar Hill Records SHCD-3864
Larry Carlin / September 29, 1997

Songs: Head South, Banjo Clark, You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive, It's A Great Day To Be Alive, I Wish, The Ballad Of Martha White, It's The Whiskey That Eases The Pain, Spelling Bee Romance, Life Is Cheap, Heartbreak Town, Title Of The Song

Personnel: Darrell Scott--guitar, pedal steel, banjo, dobro, autoharp, harmonica, slide, bass; Verlon Thompson--harmony vocals, acoustic guitar; Kenny Malone--drums and percussion; Roy Huskey Jr.--bass; Suzi Ragsdale--harmony vocals; Sam Bush--mandolin and fiddle; plus many others

Remember this name -- Darrell Scott. You have heard him play before (with Guy Clark, Tim O'Brien, and Sam Bush, to name a few), and next time around he will be on his own. This is a given. Order those tickets now, before he becomes too big. Darrell Scott is not only an incredible guitar player -- as anyone who saw Sam Bush at Strawberry this year can attest to -- he also is a great singer, writer and multi-instrumentalist whose first oddly-titled solo project is called Aloha From Nashville. Do not fear, there is nothing Hawaiian about this album. But do say hello to Darrell Scott if you haven't already.

All of the songs on Aloha were written by Scott except for one co-write and one song that was written by his father, the politically-incorrect-for-the-90s It's The Whiskey That Eases The Pain. But if you are looking for a category to place Darrell in, good luck. He is all over the musical map and such is one of the things that makes this CD so enjoyable. The title may sound Hawaiian, he may live in Nashville, but it is plain to see that his influences are many. And, besides numerous instruments that Scott plays himself, he also has some stellar sidemen on this CD such as Sam Bush, Kenny Malone, and Roy Huskey, Jr., on bass.

The first song is a whimsical western swing number called Head South that sings the praises of living south of the Mason-Dixon line. Next comes Banjo Clark, a song derived from the traditional tune Old Joe Clark. He co-wrote this song with his friend and fellow Guy Clark Band member Verlon Thompson, and this song is one that Sam Bush covers in his shows. You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive is a coal mining ballad that comes from Scott's Kentucky upbringing. That is followed, ironically, by another song with the word "alive" in the title, the anti-blues song It's A Great Day For Being Alive that could easily have been a title cut. I Wish is a bluesy minor mode song that features some great slide playing by Scott, and The Ballad Of Martha White is a slow jazzy piece about his being in love as a kid with a fictitious advertising spokeswoman. The song features a soft, muted trumpet and lots of talk about greasy biscuits. His father, who was also a player and was Darrell's main inspiration as a musician, wrote It's The Whiskey That Eases The Pain. Darrell also dedicated the recording to his dad. It's been awhile since anyone has had a song with spelled words in it, and Spelling Bee Romance is the wittiest song on this CD. Life Is Cheap is a slow ballad about spousal abuse that features Suzi Ragsdale on harmony and accordion. She is also from the Guy Clark Band. Heartbreak Town is about a couple trying to make a new start in life, and the final cut, Title Of The Song, is a dead-on skewering about the way the powers-that-be in Nashville want songs to be written. It's obvious from the songs on this recording that Darrel Scott has not followed the songwriting rules he pokes fun of in this classic closing cut.

Aloha From Nashville -- besides showcasing the writing, singing and playing talents of Darrell Scott -- was also produced by him, and it has a cute photo of him as a kid standing outside of Ernest Tubb's record shop. He has come a long ways since then, and he doesn't have very far to go until he hits the big time on his own. Next Strawberry Fest could find Sam Bush playing in Darrell Scott's band. Before saying goodbye to this review, say hello to Darrell Scott and Aloha From Nashville.

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