Wayne Bledsoe: Darrell Scott's 'Long Ride' is a likable trip

Darrell Scott

Darrell Scott

"Long Ride Home," Darrell Scott (Full Light)

Darrell Scott is one of those singer-songwriters who was in the shadows for years — playing as a sideman for Nashville buddies and showing up in the songwriting credits for some of the best numbers on popular country artists' albums. Then "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" (recently featured on the TV show "Justified") became an Americana smash and brought Scott into the spotlight — albeit one that was tiny in comparison to pop and commercial country music.

Since that time, Scott has released a stack of fine albums and had his songs covered by Brad Paisley, Travis Tritt, The Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and other artists.

For "Long Ride Home" Scott assembled some of country music's great sidemen, including pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, bassist Dennis Crouch, drummer Kenny Malone, steel guitarist Lloyd Green and harmonica players Charlie McCoy and Mickey Raphael, and invited a bunch of buddies, including Guy Clark, Tim O'Brien, Rodney Crowell, Patty Griffin, John Cowan, to record a solid country album.

According to Scott's liner notes, these are songs that had been sitting around for a while — some from all the way back when he was 16. That being the case, Scott must have had a masterful skill from an early age. These are old-school types of songs. Country and folky songs that could've been hits in the 1960s, weepers, little blues-based numbers and story-songs.

It's the ability to tell stories that is truly Scott's strong suit. Scott can embody that legendary character who's made a mistake in his life and is here to tell you about it before he disappears — which is about what half of the great folk songs are about. When Scott sings "No Love In Arkansas (The Ring)" he's working from a well-worn template. He never lets us know exactly what happened between him and that "lovely lady from Tennessee," but you know he tosses his wedding ring into the Mississippi River and you believe it.

"Long Ride Home" is a pleasant journey with Scott's likeable voice blending with Robbins' always-just-right piano and Green's soulful steel guitar. At 16 tracks, it's maybe a little long. Good as the songs are, it would've been a stronger disc without a few tracks, including the lackluster "Candle for a Cowboy."

Still, "Long Ride Home" is a welcome trip.

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