Darrell Scott could have padded out his seventh album with some of the hits he's penned for country music heavies, but he cares too much for the craft of songwriting and his audience to take the easy way out. Like his last album, Long Ride Home was recorded at his home studio, but this time he invited along a bunch of musician friends to help flesh out the tunes. The core band is Scott on guitar, Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, Dennis Crouch on standup bass, and drummer Kenny Malone, all hardcore Nashville pros with thousands of hits to their collective names. The songs are an autobiographical sketch of Scott's early years, full of details about family, friends, hard times, and good old country music. "Hopkinsville," a honky tonk rocker about hard work and hard living, features harmony vocals from Rodney Crowell and deep bluesy piano work from Robbins. Scott co-wrote "Out in the Parking Lot" with Guy Clark, who shares lead vocals with him. It's a subtle, folksy portrait of good ol' boys getting plastered behind a bar as they watch their lives unwind, for better or worse. "Too Close to Comfort" is a cheatin' song with a conscience that doesn't downplay the moral ambiguity of unfaithful liaisons. Tim O'Brien and John Cowan add wailing harmonies to Scott's distressing lead vocal. The ragtime-flavored "No Use Living for Today" is a jaunty lament that makes hard times sound like fun and brings to mind the songs of Jimmie Rodgers. "The Country Boy" tells the story of a country singer from cradle to grave, in three succinct verses and a poignant chorus, with Robbins contributing another impressive turn on piano. This 16-song set is over an hour long, a generous musical and spiritual offering from a songwriter who never talks down to his audience.
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AllMusic Review by j. poet