On the title track of Shay Martin Lovette’s second LP, Scatter & Gather, he muses on the magnetism of certain people in our lives. Whether it’s a partner, family member, or friend, there is a person, or people, who, no matter how far you roam, you will find again and again. The Boone, North Carolina-based singer-songwriter summarizes this enduring connection best when he sings: “When where we’ve been wears us thin, we scatter and gather again.”
Inevitably, when you reunite with a loved one, there are stories to tell from your time apart and that’s what Lovette’s magnetic Scatter & Gather feels like: a familiar source telling you captivating tales. In each narrative Lovette magnifies intimate details like lemon honey bread (“Oh Nandina”), cypress trees (“That Spark”), white jeans (“Fierce and Delicate Things”), and cold knees (“For Rose Marie”) and it heightens the record’s intimacy.
Lovette, a lover of the outdoors and a beekeeper, renders his natural world lined with trees, full of expansive skylines, and suffused with woodsmoke. But despite the beautiful backdrop, Lovette doesn’t shy away from singing about tough times. The people in his songs are sometimes weary and struggling. On “Upstate,” which fittingly sounds like a storm rolling in thanks to a mournful-sounding lap steel guitar and harmonica, he sings about helping somebody out of a toxic situation but maintains that blue skies are ahead.
The majority of Scatter & Gather, produced by Mipso’s Joseph Terrell, is breezy, and Lovette’s songs shine even brighter because of this easy pacing. On each track, he is backed by a full band and together they craft songs that are easy to listen to and enjoy whether you’re having a rough day or celebrating small wins. Danny Abrams’ clarinet on “For Rose Marie” is incredibly genial and Libby Rodenbough’s fiddle on “Parkway Bound” is the warm wind coming through a car’s open window.
By the final hazy track, “On a One Way Flight,” Lovette’s narrator is restless and describes the world as “full of beauty, smoke, and lies.” It’s apparent that it’s time to scatter but you will gather around this record again.