The swampy version of “My Sweet Love Ain’t Around” that opens Darrell Scott’s tribute to Hank Williams reveals a glimpse of the musical genius, as well as the painful beauty of the music, of this album. A spare slide guitar line and gruff vocal playing call and response—almost in note-for-note fashion—languidly lead off the song before the strains of Reese Wynans’ B3 carry Scott’s propulsive slide and shimmering lead guitar higher and higher to cascading climax. The combination of Scott’s guitars and Wynans’s B3 mimic the raggedness of loss, and you can feel this blues in your bones.
Scott writes in his liner notes that he “was always struck by the blues in Hank’s songs in that beautiful blend of black blues tradition and poor white boy belting, having way more in common than what oughta separate them – in lyrics, in voice and in chords.” Covering these nine Williams songs, Scott digs deep into them, finds their core, inhabits their depths, and dwells in their pain and beauty to emerge with his own deeply felt versions of them. He’s joined on the album by Wynans on organ, Danny Thompson on bass, Marco Giovino on drums, Shad Cobb on fiddle; Todd Phillips plays bass on the album’s closing track.
Scott captures the loneliness of “Lost Highway” with a high lonesome acoustic guitar, punctuated by Wynans’ organ and Giovino’s snare beats that propel the tune in a manner that evokes the can’t-go-back-must-move-forward rhythm of the song. Wynans’ organ captures the wistful regret of the tune. “Fool about You” rocks down the road, mimicking the lover’s decision to leave behind a fruitless relationship, while “Men with Broken Hearts” quietly delivers a gospel recitation. The album closes with a sparkling version of “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle,” which floats along Scott’s shimmering slide.
Darrell Scott Sings the Blues of Hank Williams would certainly make Hank proud. Scott cannily discovers the nuances of each tune and delivers stunning and memorable versions of the songs.
‘Darrell Scott Sings the Blues of Hank Williams’ is available HERE.