The Couchville Sessions
Reviewed by: Jane Roser
I always find it challenging to review albums like this. In the same vein as legendary singer-songwriters like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits, artists like Darrell Scott let their music speak for themselves and there are few words that can illustrate just how captivating and thrilling records like this truly are. But I’ll give it my darndest shot.
Scott’s long list of accolades include two Grammy nominations, AMA Song of the Year award and ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year award, plus his songs have been recorded by everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Travis Tritt and Keb’ Mo’. The Couchville Sessions is Scott’s tenth studio album and his first new release in four years, but incredibly, the tracks were actually recorded fifteen years ago. They’re only now being released because Scott was finally able to add the extra touches he wanted to and because “the songs were too good to remain silent.”
Filled with somber ballads and a good dose of thorny rock and roll, The Couchville Sessions is a mix of original songs and covers of some of the most bad ass songs in music history including Townes Van Zandt’s classic “Loretta”, Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and James Taylor’s “Another Grey Morning”. When you hear that familiar rocking guitar riff that starts off “Big River”, your heart almost bursts with nostalgia and Scott just oozes swagger and charm with his expressive vocals.
The bluesy “Ramblin’ Man” feels like the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta found that hellhound at the crossroads and hung him up to dry. It’s a hypnotic, pensive tune by Hank Williams about a man succumbing to his addictions and doomed to break hearts along the way to his inevitable self-destruction.
“Down To The River” turns an eye to the cut-throat music industry and does so in a catchy, raw and dirty way. A cool bonus at the end of the song is Guy Clark telling a story about the time he saw a murder of crows catching baby rattlesnakes and leaving their skin and bones lying in their nest. “Isn’t that far out?” Clark chuckles, “been trying to write a song about it ever since.”
Almost the entire record was recorded live in Scott’s living room and was edited on a woodstove he uses as a music desk when it’s not heating wood for the winter. Considering how fuel-injected this album is, that struck me as somewhat poetic.
The Couchville Sessions is filled with emotion and charm, as well as fire and thorns; like honey on a briar patch.