You need more than guts and good intentions to record a convincing all-covers CD of songs by the modern-day pantheon of great singer-songwriters, from Bob Dylan to Mickey Newbury to Joni Mitchell. You have to add something special and personal to reignite oft-heard standards – musical talent, sure, but also a depth of feeling, experience and understanding. And Darrell Scott, from his genes to his genius as a sensitive vocalist, an award-winning songwriter of depth and perception, and a versatile instrumentalist, has earned that right.
Darrell’s solo CDs, session work, touring gigs with Steve Earle’s Bluegrass Dukes (of which he remains a member), Guy Clark, and Newgrass Revival founder Sam Bush, and his own live shows have steadily drawn reviews even payola can’t buy. USA Today praised his “brilliantly clever songs”; Entertainment Tonight raved about his “powerful songwriting, passionate vocals and masterful picking”; Rolling Stone listed his 2003 CD, Theatre of the Unheard, in their list of Critics’ Top Albums and compared him to Clark and Springsteen “at their best.” Performing Songwriter went all the way, dubbing him “the best of the best.”
Somehow, Darrell has continually found the time and energy to expand his musical activities ever further. In 2003, he launched his own label, Full Light Records, and his first move as owner was to produce a traditional, mountain country album for his father, This Weary Way, that finally showcased Wayne’s original songs. For the past two years, Darrell has been the “artist in residence” with Orchestra Nashville (members appear on Modern Hymn’s “Joan of Arc”), creating what he calls “diverse musical happenings – the odder the better,” mixing the string section with such guests as Sam Bush, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and other musicians from many genres.
Darrell has also been stockpiling songs and ideas for his next few CDs, including orchestral recordings, a “stone country” album, a duets project, and a band record of roots, Americana and folk-rock songs. He plays more than 50 shows a year, including prestigious US and UK festivals, and conducts songwriting workshops around the country. He recently had to turn down an invitation to lead a road band for Joan Baez due to logistics. We should all have such problems; we should all have such skills. But Darrell does, and that’s what makes him such a distinctive and creative force in contemporary music.