'Where The Water Runs Deepest'
(Itzall Goode Music, 2012 USA / 2014 Europe)
Boston - I always loved that city! I spent some great times there, with my first husband (who passed away in 1997) and his family. So, it took Eric Scott only the opening track of his latest album 'Where The Water Runs Deepest' to win me over... "I walked all the way to Boston / Just to see your smiling face / Although the sky was filled with rain clouds / To me it felt like a sunny day. / Yes I'm gonna walk to Boston / Where there's an angel waiting just for me". A grooving feel-good song - by a skilled singer with a soulful voice. He has been compared with John Mayer, Lenny Kravitz and even Marvin Gaye!
As I had never heard of Eric Scott before and you probably haven't either - let's take a look at the man's extensive well-written bio! He was born in Washington, DC and stayed all his life in the area, he now lives in North Beach, MD. Eric grew up listening to everything from Black Sabbath, Rush, AC/DC, The Ramones and Motorhead to Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, The Dregs, ELO, Elton John, Hall and Oates, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Wes Montgomery and Dave Brubeck... and he still does. "Pantera might be in my CD player one day and The Carpenters the next", he says. "I listen to everything."
Eric Scott has been a professional musician since 1994. He has to date enjoyed a varied and interesting musical journey. As a touring bassist and vocalist, he has performed on numerous stages throughout Europe, Canada, the Caribbean Islands, Central America and the entire United States. While building his reputation as one of the area's most sought after sidemen & session players, Scott wrote and released three solo records, 'Divine Static', 'Let's Hear It For The Fools' and 'Red', to critical acclaim.
The journey continues with the fourth release 'Where The Water Runs Deepest' on the Itzall Goode Music label. The new album further explores Eric's neo-soul, jazz, funk and pop influences, but his sound continues to evolve. It is maybe even more confessional than 'Red', more personal and intimate too with its stripped down production and arrangements. While the performances are first rate, this release is all about the songs and the voice; they are wrapped in a sheerer, warmer, acoustic package. Eric says: "I've always wanted to make an acoustic record. Just guitar and voice. Songs seem to be so transparent when they're recorded that way, very emotional, raw, and honest. That was my mind set when I started working on 'Where The Water Runs Deepest'.
With that vision in mind, sessions began with co-producer Scott Smith. Some of the finest guitarists (Mike Stacey, Kajun Kelley, Sol Creech) that Washington and Baltimore have to offer came on board. But: "After we started recording, I wanted to start adding more stuff, drums, bass, keys, ear candy. I couldn't quite get used to hearing a whole set of songs with just my voice and guitars. I needed some grooves!" says Eric. Compromise was made, small drum kits and percussion were incorporated and a record was born. "Scott Smith was constantly reminding me of the record we set out to make, very sparse, warm and intimate. He reigned me in when I wanted to change directions and add things and I'm glad he did. He really pushed me to be fearless vocally as well".
The result is a record that sounds cohesive, focused and balanced in its flow and presentation. Song subjects are love and loneliness, joy and pain. Can't we all relate to those aspects of life? But most of us can't paint pictures with lyrics, like Eric Scott does! Emotional impact guaranteed...
In the liner notes (after two generous pages of thank you's...) Eric tells: "Originally intended as a four or five song acoustic EP, this collection of tunes gently grabbed me by the hand and started to pull me in a different direction. During the recording, I heard a voice say, 'there are some old friends that want to get in touch with you.' Hence, I went and visited some unreleased songs that I had in the vault... listened... and said, 'come with me... I've found you a home.' I would imagine these songs were very happy... for who wants to sit on a shelf wasting away?
After re-recording a few of them, I found myself writing some more brand new songs. I was given a gentle nudge by a cover song that I've always loved... got in touch... and invited it along for the ride. The great spirit gently placed another song in my lap that I originally demoed for someone else. It said, 'may I come along, too?' Suddenly, this collection was born. Pretty cool how it all came about.
I call this a collection of songs because I didn't start out to record them all together like I usually do. Some of them were under lock and key... some were wandering the streets... and most of them were just waiting to be born. They all travelled a different road... but somehow, the winds gently carried them to the same destination. So I put them all in the same room together... and to my amazement, they all got along just fine. Sometimes I wish the world worked that way... but I digress."
How sweet... Eric is really talking about his 'babies'!
"Boston" - I got already enthusiastic about this soulful opening track! I also think it makes a difference when the lead singer is a bassist, instead of a more usual guitar or keyboard player. Eric's vocals surround us with a combination of warmth and power. This track has a R&B vibe, like a love song by Al Green.
"If It Takes All Night" - Beautiful lyrics: "Baby right now I really need to talk to you / But I can't climb this wall that surrounds you." A name will pop up in your head, of a person who made you feel exactly this way!
"Get To Me" - Eric's simmering take on this cover song by the rock group Train from San Francisco. It first appeared on their album 'My Private Nation' in 2003. "Get on the back of a nightingale" - this leaves you feeling so good...
"Everybody" - This is one of the sparse acoustic (just bass and guitar) songs, that stayed closest to Eric's original idea.
"Break Me Open" - Eric continues his willingness to bare his soul lyrically without compromise. Never has it been more evident than on this track, a trip into the inner sanctum of his mind. Perhaps his most confessional and revealing tune to date. The song is a brutally honest foray into the opening of old wounds and facing the ghosts of ones past in order to heal. "It's tough to reveal so much of yourself in a song", says Eric, "but I've always been most drawn to songs where an artist is unafraid and just lays it out there".
"Loneliness Is Speaking To Me" - Definitely the best song title on this album. "I've been let down / I've been left alone / I've been let go..." Just one night on FaceBook and you'll find a couple of confessions like this, by your best friends.
"Forgiven" - The piano ballad "Forgiven" further illustrates the deep, stark and uncluttered tone of the record. It details with painful clarity the ending of a relationship. A break-up song with the aspirations of being a make-up song.
"Take Me Home" - Not all is serious on "Where The Water Runs Deepest", as evidenced by this playful tongue-in-cheek romp. You will swear this original track is an old cover song from the crooner era. A blues tune with walking bass line, twangy guitar and even a scat solo!
"Victim" - Another sparse tune (acoustic guitar, barely audible Wurlitzer and percussion) staying close to the original plan. It has an intimate flavor, which fits the confessional lyrics very well.
"I Wanna Save The World" - Yes, I want to save the world too! "This task is thankless, as history reminds me / Somebody will shoot you when you're not looking".
"Mama Let Yo Hair Down!" - The disc closes out with this unexpected funky reggae-tinged tune, about not letting yourself get caught up in the struggles of everyday life. Eric thumps and plucks on the bass! He says: "An acoustic record doesn't have to be slow and somber. I tried to make a record that gets you thinking, tells you a little more about me, and when you listen you notice your toes are tapping and your head is bobbing".
The featured musicians are: Eric Scott (vocals, bass, keys, percussion), Mike Stacey (guitar), Scott Smith (guitar, keys, percussion), Kajun Kelley (guitar), Sol Creech (guitar), Brian Sims (piano, organ, wurlitzer, fender rhodes), Mike Aubin (drums, percussion), Mark St. Pierre (drums, percussion), John Thomakos (drums, percussion), Jen Smith (cello), Ruut (piano).
A special mention should go out to co-producer Scott Smith from The Wood and Stone Room in Baltimore, who recorded, engineered and mixed this CD. The dynamic range and production are excellent. Together Smith and Scott created a stripped down honest, emotional, raw album that was all about the songs and the voice.
Do you remember those teenage music magazines from the early seventies? Featuring lists of all the things our idols liked. Well, Eric has his own list...
He loves the Washington Redskins, has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich nearly everyday, and owns almost 100 pairs of shoes.
Favorite meal: Lasagna, tossed salad, garlic bread
Favorite dessert: Warm chocolate chip cookies
Favorite movies: The Color Purple, Silence Of The Lambs, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Favorite albums: What's Going On (Marvin Gaye), Highway To Hell (AC/DC), Aja (Steely Dan)
Favorite singers: Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Paul Rogers, Freddie Mercury
Favorite song: A tie between Unforgettable (Nat King Cole) and What's Going On (Marvin Gaye)
Personal heroes: Parents, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, my school teachers
"Where The Water Runs Deepest" promises to bring home what Eric's listeners appreciate most about him: his unique, warm, smooth and soulful voice, the genuine emotions, driving rhythms and his poet's view of the world with all its surprises, disappointments, thrills and hope.
Written and compiled by Johanna J. Bodde - September 8th, 2014.