Bar Scott recently gave us permission to reprint a piece she wrote entitled Grace. She had sent it along in one of the numerous e-mails we had exchanged about two CDs she had sent for us to air (Parachute and Journey). She mentioned living in Woodstock, NY for a period of years and I admitted that my knowledge base about that area only covered what I had seen in print and film about the original Woodstock festival. That and what I had learned about Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles from Todd at the West Coast Bureau. I was instantly jealous when Bar responded that she had been to the second Woodstock Festival, she loved the Midnight Rambles and had even had the opportunity to perform at one of them. Should I have expected someone who actually lived in Woodstock to not have participated in the cultural offerings available to them there? Bar has been more than gracious fielding my nosy questions about her musical roots (and her relocation to Colorado), so it seems only fair to do a full review of her 2014 release Journey.
Right out of the gate I was struck with the rich tone that Bar’s voice possesses. She writes music that is quite percussive and the harmonies layered in the tracks add to the richness of the musical tapestry she is weaving. Ah Ha Ha opens the CD with a rollicking feel that had me tapping my toes. Her voice contains elements of many singers I have enjoyed over the years. There is a definite Joni Mitchell sound but Bar transcends being pigeon holed as a mere Joni Mitchell disciple. The pop music elements I hear also invoke Christine McVey from Fleetwood Mac and our old friend from Trees, Lindsay Tomasic.
Track two (Roll Over Me) picks up the pace with drum and guitar melding into the rhythm of a train moving down the tracks. Again the rich vocal harmonies are wonderfully recorded over the music bed. Slowing the pace a bit in If There’s a Way, Bar mixes Peter Tomlinson’s accordion with Lou Pappas’s mellow bass lines. When she sings, “I would wander high above the tree line / To see a full moon rise / I’d linger ‘til the morning light / To find away” you can feel the chill of the mountain air.
Running Away is another beautiful track with Scott adding her soaring vocal to poignant lyrics about a changing relationship. I really liked the way she interweaves the lead and background vocal parts. In the title track (Journey), Bar makes great use of her writing skills. Besides being a gifted singer, songwriter and musician, Scott is a writer. She has the ability to meld her words with melodies that produce vivid images of a very personal nature. The last artist who really made this impression on me was Kitty Donohoe who, now that I think of it, shares all of Scott’s professional qualifications: writer, singer-songwriter, musician.
A Little Love Can Mean A Lot is the first track where I hear more Christine McVey than Joni Mitchell. Don’t get me wrong: Scott has her own voice and style, but her phrasing and song structure remind me of McVey’s best songs. If I was a betting man, I would lay money that Bar Scott could step into Fleetwood Mac and sing any of McVey’s ballads without missing a beat. A Winter Tide adds a slow. shuffling drum line by Manuel Quintana to more accordion work by Tomlinson.. This changes the pace of the song without actually changing the speed, which is an interesting effect. This mode gets kicked up one more notch on the next track, Letter Drop. Letter Drop isn’t exactly stride piano, but it isn’t pure jazz, either. If I was going to invent a new genre to stick Letter Drop in to, I would have to call it “jazz-doo-wop’.
I’m Not Perfect now adds a subtitle organ texture the mix with more beautifully intertwined vocal parts. It is obvious that Scott spends her due diligence in mapping out her vocal parts. John Alan features Scott’s piano, vocals, and perhaps her most personal lyrics on the whole CD. Bar is truly not afraid of laying her emotions out for all to hear, but in a very uplifting way. Journey ends very much as it began with the percussive I’m in Love. The song structure and vocals here remind me very much of Lindsay Tomasic’s work. Bar Scott’s Journey is a fine CD and as soon as I heard it, I ordered a copy for my wife’s birthday. If one is interested in more information about Bar and her body of work, visit her website at www.barscot.com .
I can’t say that I have dabbled with Kick Starter to fund any kind of musical venture, so maybe I will now have to find a rich uncle or buy a winning lottery ticket. I would be up for a triple bill of Scott, Donohoe, and Tomasic in a concert at the Ontonagon Theater or the Algomah Honey House. While this may be a little ambitious, Bar has indicated that she is investigating the 2017 Artist In Residence program offered by the Friends of the Porkies. Should she find her way to the UP, I am pretty sure that we would find a way to put her on stage. It would be another great Journey for Bar Scott and a treat for concert goers here.
Top Piece Video – Bar Scott’s Set the World on Fire