Another latecomer that couldn’t be ignored is the 12-cut Scott Allen set recorded in Minneapolis. My Own Grown Eyes (Dropped Dec 2–Independent). Produced by Patrik Tanner who also did some arrangements & played guitars/piano/keys/percussion/autoharp/banjo/mandolin/backing vocals/drums).
The 47-minute CD starts with a rockin’ fluid beat on “The Finest Hour,” & while Allen doesn’t have a strong commanding authoritative vocal like Jim Morrison or Neil Diamond he does possess an exuberant precise vocal style. This song arrangement is simple but it’s instantly likable. A good melodic tinge with nice touches of percussion. Good commercial mainstream quality. This is the kind of song that catches an ear & won’t let go. Just enough lead guitar to keep the tuneful traffic moving.
Some songs are light touches with the pop-ingenuity that has a wide spectrum. From Marshall Crenshaw, & Paul Carrack, to the more latter-day serious Rick Springfield to the deeper reaches of the late Emitt Rhodes. But Allen smartly avoids the pitfalls of sugary-pop detours & musical confection. He maintains a level of quality that keeps the songs buoyant.
Despite its pop-leanings of “The Safening,” this concludes with a clean jazz-like lead guitar. That’s creative. Great lead guitar(s) ring & jangle throughout this CD. “Before My Own Grown Eyes,” the interplay is thrilling, well-recorded & another ear-tugger.
Scott has the talent to sound almost like he’s an English-bred pop singer who more often than not is deeper than the American hybrid. “Delivered No Tomorrow” rocks steady with guitars that stab with their melodic tone. Scott also has lyrics that aren’t as cliched as the mainstream standard. Scott changes gears on this set which offers diversified interesting performances. “Badge of Honor,” is more serious than many of the others. More dramatic. Just a tad away from the cliff of pompous. But Allen pulls it off. No showboating in the vocal – just steady on course. Lovely acoustic guitar picking & sharp snare beats. Played this one smartly.
Then, the next track opens with piano notes & jangling guitars. Nice segue into “73” which has a Jackson Browne punch. But it’s the support of those coherent interplaying guitars between Allen’s vocals that support plaintive stretches. A style that works well for Scott Allen.
With excellent versatility, Scott begins “New and Improving,” with an early Elton John style before John went burlesque on many songs. This is almost “Empty Sky” in tradition. Sophisticated lyrics & arrangements. This may not be the way to go in 2022 but the song has a unifying coolness.
The best song is “Family Christmas Knife Fight,” because it has balls. Varied instruments in a rumble of sound – the tenor sax (Jeff King) adds a nice slick soulful touch. Sung with a keen dazzling street edge – it shakes off the potential commercial primacy but wails into a masterful show business rocker.
Scott really comes to life toward the end of his set when even “Black Ice Freeway,” kicks the doors down with a motivated vocal. It burns tires doing wheelies with the musicians on the roof of the vehicle. Noah Levy’s drums are superb pistons. The guitars grind like gears needing oil. An excellent rocking display as America used to do it.
Musicians: Scott (vocals/bass/baritone guitar), Andra Suchy (backing vocals), Doug Christianson (percussion) & David Feily (banjo/mandolin).