Nashville-based songwriter Darrell Scott was born in Kentucky but grew up in Gary, Indiana; thematically he alternates between the stance of the Springsteen/Mellencamp proletarian poet and that of the alt-country po' white bard. His recent Theatre of the Unheard (Full Light) revisits a set of tunes he originally cut 12 years ago for a never-released album. In the interim Scott has changed his musical approach, abandoning the melange of honky-tonk tropes, rock rhythms, and jazz colorings on his early recordings for straight-ahead country-rock bombast. Sometimes the new style overwhelms the old material: brooding meditations on loneliness and fate like "10,000 Miles Away" and "Uncle Lloyd" can't support all the Sturm und Drang. But "East of Gary," whose Dylan-esque foundation of burbling organ and crisp acoustic rhythm guitar is intermittently rattled by rock 'n' roll thunder, deftly captures the restless ennui of a sensitive young man suffocated by blue-collar provincialism. "I Wanna Be Free," a visceral blast of country rock textured with Stax/Volt horns, is about a teenage couple who, after a night of forbidden pleasure at a truck stop, face down the girl's mama with screams of "I wanna be free! You can't touch me!" as a molten guitar lead erupts. And "6 O'Clock in the Morning," set to a sparkling arrangement of acoustic guitar, mandolin, and fiddle that belies its urban theme, enunciates both the bitterness and the hopes of a battered working-class hero trying to make it through another day: "I have a child that calls me dad / And I long to give her what I've never had / Like wakin' up feelin' glad at 6 o'clock in the morning." Friday, October 10, 7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Senor McQuire.