2012 Weather-Tone Records
Produced by Scrote
Somewhere in Brooklyn walks a man in a pearl-snap shirt. And he plays a hot mess of bluesy rock with a healthy punch of Americana. Will Scott ‘s second album, Keystone Crossing, rises from the sounds his debut album already paved. Three years after Gnawbone, Will Scott sets loose nine new songs into the world.
Like the sign of Pisces, the first songs evoke a murky, water-filled world of floods and neglected decay that build over layers of guitars and haunting percussion. “White Water Rising” rides the crest and trough of flood waters that “came over/The roofs of our houses/ John lost his trailer; so they’re staying in mine. Inspired by a group of ill-maintained homes in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard known as ‘Admiral’s Row’, and left to ruin, “Derry Down” becomes a baleful mourn. The jingle-jangle percussion of “Just to Carry Me Over” echoes with the footfalls of a chain-gang song—lonesome, full of guilt and remorse. Couple that with hypnotic strings and lap steel, and you have the reluctant shuffle of a prisoner’s refrain.
“Right to Love” gives me goosebumps. Scott’s powerful voice and the song’s mournful plea of lost love burns clear through with a certain urging, or a sorry admission, that goes from “you used to take good care of me” to “I tried to take good care of you.” The decision to place the song after those first hard songs, with their brooding ambiance and heavy instrumentation, was a good one
The second half of the album starts off with a growl, with electric guitars and a guilty verdict. The title for “It Ain’t Gonna Rain” comes from old slave songs, that appears to have been a prayer for crop failure: with no crops, there would be no need for slaves. Even when the music becomes a driving force that conveys the dark, emotional underbelly of the songs, Scott’s voice prevails without turning into a bedrock of gravel or affected into falsettos. These wise production decisions are really apparent in “Broken Arrow”–a sparse, haunting song reminding me of Bruce Springsteen’s songs “Mansion on the Hill” and “My Father’s House” from his Nebraska album. Scott’s guitar on “Broken Arrow” plays spare as the lyric, which shows the range of this album. We go from forlorn and sparse to the rolling blues rhythm of “Last Rest Stop” that hustles with that up-all-night-driving urgency, accompanied by Deacon Jones, of John T. Hooker fame, on the B-3 organ and pedal steel by Bob Hoffnar. While “Broken Arrow” is a song about someone who ‘stayed/And stood alongside the sparrow,’ the person in “Last Rest Stop” has the opposite problem– ‘took a wrong turn out of Hackensack/You can never go back/You can never go back.’
Deacon Jones’ wailing B-3 organ joins in harmony with Scott’s gospel pleas of the last song, “You are the One I Love.” What better way to end this record than with this image, and this insistent, haunting confession: ‘Just like smoke rings/You fade away/But, I want you to know/You are the one I love. You are the one I love.’