Anyone who’s gotten near or past 50 years old knows the existential ruminations that invariably ensue. Sure, some creep in around 40, as that’s a fairly true “mid-life” marker for most. But 50… well, that means you’re past the mid-way point. The age, alone, is enough to give you pause, but add in some health troubles and there’s mortality staring you right on down.
That’s not far off the mark of what happened to singer/songwriter Rod Picott in recent years. In his mid-50s, he suffered some heart trouble caused by pain medications due to a back injury. Surgery was successful and he’s much better now, thanks, with many of his considerable contemplations documented on his new release, Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil. The album is as raw and real as were his emotions at the time.
Picott puts his gruff voice and warm acoustic to work on the 12-song cycle of stories that explore what it means to be alive in varying circumstances — dealing with self-doubt and toxic masculinity, stepping hesitantly into manhood, having a friend commit suicide, regretting a life wasted away, wrestling with demons of days past, and more. No detail is left behind in his tellings of these tales.
Because Picott steps fully into the shoes of each narrator, it’s sometimes hard to know which characters are him and which aren’t. And that’s very likely intentional. The album plays like a musical scrapbook with Picott recounting and regaling his listeners like the folk raconteur he is, fittingly stepping up to consider his recent brush with death in the final track, “Folds of Your Dress.”