january 2009

Andy Scott

Those who find the estimable John Pizzarelli perhaps a bit arch and a whiter shade of white ought to give Andy Scott a whirl. Don't Tempt Fate, his new solo album, is a delightful, relaxed groovy affair of original jazz- and blues-influenced tunes purveyed by musicians comfortable in both modes, with nice acoustic touches dotting the otherwise-electric ambiance. Scott offers a slight bluesy swagger and drawl in his vocal style—Mac Rebbenack and Randy Newman are the most obvious influences here—every bit as natural as his guitar and keyboard playing is fluid. The attitude is generally upbeat, with potential heartbreakers rendered from the standpoint of a warm afterglow memory of a good, and gone, romance—witness the frolicsome pace of "Lost But Not Forgotten," with its litany of "things we once shared" followed by the unambiguously rendered sentiment, "I can only hope that you are safe and warm somewhere," with Scott's quiet, percolating electric Wurlitzer noodlings conjuring a winsome, Vince Guaraldi feel. Which is not to suggest there aren't some deeper hurts expressed herein. "Lost But Not Forgotten," in fact, is followed by a slow grinding blues ballad, "Lost In The World," which expressively laments the one that got away, a pain Scott makes vivid with his deliberately rendered, sandpapery vocal suggestive of tears roiling beneath its calm surface. Vamping and fingerpicking on acoustic guitar on "Who Doesn't Call," Scott offers up a wry, slightly sardonic, perspective on the lonely guy's plight ("who doesn't call/when I'm not there to answer the phone"). With his old friend Madeleine Peyroux (Scott's been an opening act for her) adding a sassy second vocal, Scott kicks off his album with a jaunty advisory, "Don't Tempt Fate," in which he appeals to his significant other to resist giving in to the old devils while he's away—"one hand holds today/but not for long/don't tempt fate/keep our love strong"—and spices it with the tight rhythmic drive of his laudable ensemble and some witty repartee with Peyroux near the end. Accompanied variously by keyboardist Sam Yahel, classical guitarist Ben Butler, drummer Victor Lewis, acoustic guitarist Ross Traut, Norika Ueda on upright bass and Sam Yahel on Hammond organ and grand piano, Scott keeps the mood misty blue and his vocals thoughtful and expressive, giving Don't Tempt Fate the pleasing cohesion of a well-considered statement addressing matters of the heart from multiple vantagepoints. Anyone who's been through the mill a bit will recognize the situations and feelings Scott examines, and those who think this could never happen to them, well, don't tempt fate—absorb this advice, and take it to heart, as Andy Scott has done. —David McGee

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Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024