Rod Picott is a seriously gifted lyricist – a writer of words and phrases that resonate and lead to reflection. On Fortune, his new release, out August 14 on Welding Records, he presents songs about heartache and revision, with a voice that is seductive and breathy, a la Leonard Cohen. There’s also a ramshackle quirkiness in some of the arrangements that is somewhat reminiscent of Tom Waits.
Picott, who worked hanging sheet rock in New England before moving to Nashville 20 years ago, reportedly set out to make Fortune sound like one of his live shows. It’s clean and raw and is sympatico with the introspection of the material. The first six songs were recorded in one day(!) and he had all recording duties over in less than two weeks.
“Maybe That’s What It Takes” is a beautiful ballad with wry observations about how suffering making you stronger, leading to some form of renewal. “Elbow Grease” is more strident and country with a plea for another go – “one more chance is all I need,” he sings. “I got a lucky charm and elbow grease.”
“Until I’m Satisfied” has a creeping, stealthy, steadfast framework, which support Will Kimbrough’s nice, atmospheric guitar work and Picott’s biting lyrics:
Well bless your crooked heart, babe
Crooked as a dog’s hind leg
“This World Is A Dangerous Place” is a short, sharp cautionary tale, while “I Was Not Worth Your Love” is another song about accepting a break up:
You always liked the broken ones, didn’t you
I wasn’t wrecked enough for you
“Jeremiah” is just voice and an acoustic guitar. It presents a poignant, tender story of a soldier’s death in a foreign land, and the impact that has on a family. “I’m On Your Side” continues the love theme with the sound of a closing door ending proceedings, perhaps not happily? The playful “Uncle John” contains a fascinating percussive strength and power tremolo guitar. “Alicia” is extremely intimate with nice finger picking while “Drunken Barber’s Hand” is the opposite – riddled with observations about the madness and haphazard nature of life and humanity, namely:
I’m old enough to know
There’s not much left to see
Just a bunch of fools carving
Their names in the tree
In “Secret Heart” Picott opines that “time is the blackest of the arts.” The closing song, “Spare Change,” refers to when:
‘Rain falls when God spills his cup
We’re down here forever cleaning it up’
As well as Kimbrough (Steve Earle, Guy Clark) handling the electric guitar parts with aplomb, producer Neilson Hubbard doubles as the group’s drummer and Lex Price joins in on bass.
Fortune is a great album, a treat for those that love discerning storytelling and the deep end of the pool.