Down This Road
Reviewed by Jane Roser
Alt-country/roots-rock, Washington Area Music Association Awards nominee and finalist of a multitude of local and national music contests, Scott Kurt, is not one for sitting still. While performing at Falls Church, Virginia’s historic State Theater last Thursday for his album release show (opening for the outlaw country singer Shooter Jennings, no less), Kurt was on fire; dancing, jumping and raising his guitar high in the air, punctuating his rebellious, hard-living lyrics. But don’t believe them for a second. He’s one of the nicest, most level headed people you’ll ever meet.
Down This Road is Kurt’s first album without his band, Memphis 59. It’s also his first as producer. “It was a little hectic sometimes because I had to switch gears from songwriter, to engineer, to producer, to singer. But in the end I’m really happy with the results because I didn’t have to compromise. Usually in a band situation or working with an outside producer, there comes a time when you have to give a little. It was nice not having to do that, but at the same time, if the record turned out to be a stinker, I’d have no one to blame but myself!”
“I Swore I Wouldn’t”, the first song on this album is in a word kick ass. Ok, that’s two words, but the lyrics rock with no apologies as he sings of a hard night of drinking and “cotton mouth and bloodshot eyes. Phone numbers I don’t recognize.” Yeah, we’ve all been there before, haven’t we?
Kurt co-wrote “Come Here Look” with his wife, Barbie Saylor-Kurt. It was the first song written for the album and it is like a spark plug in a muscle car- high voltage and performance driven: “a neon sign in a crowded bar, a round of pool and a game of darts and a come here look was all it took.”
The inspiration for “These Four Wheels” came about after a rehearsal one day. The band was packing up their gear when keyboardist Jon Carroll, a Grammy award winning artist and former member of the Starland Vocal Band who scored a big hit back in the 70’s with “Afternoon Delight”, asked what he was up to that night. Kurt and his wife were leaving for a road trip to Florida that evening, so Carroll said “packing up and hitting the road with the one you love sounds like a pretty damn good idea.” Kurt thought that was a great idea for a song and started writing the lyrics after returning from vacation.
“I Ain’t Living Long Like This” was written by Rodney Crowell and originally recorded by Emmylou Harris before Waylon Jennings had a hit with it in 1979. This version captures the raw energy and excitement of a live performance. I dare you to listen to it just once.
Several talented artists worked on this album and when I asked him about their input, Kurt says “I worked with two different engineers during the mixing and recording process. One of them, Shawn Byrne is a talented musician/producer based in Nashville. Shawn played guitar on most of the songs and he brought a nice twangy sound to the record. Shawn has played guitar with Rodney Atkins who had six number one singles on the Billboard Country charts. Vince Santoro, who played the drums on every song, currently tours with Mary Chapin Carpenter and has also played with some true legends such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Rodney Crowell and Willie Nelson. It was a real treat having him play drums on my songs, especially when I think about the country royalty that he has banged the drums for!”
“Down This Road” is the perfect album to listen to on a long summer road trip (or even a short one). If you’re going to take two pieces of advice from me it’s this: first, never sit on a barbed wire fence naked and second, buy this album. ‘Cause we ain’t living long like this. Might as well have some fun.