The name Scott Poley may not be too familiar to readers outside the Liverpool area as Scott has, up until now, tended to work with other artists as an accompanist, session musician and producer. A highly talented player of all sorts of stringed instruments [guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, mandolin and bouzouki], Scott has worked his musical magic for artists such as Cara Luft, Kevin Montgomery, Peter Asher, Joe Topping and Cherry Ghost, amongst many others.
Now Scott has stepped into the spotlight as an artist in his own right with his just-released solo album "Passport".
Credited to The Scott Poley Project, the album traces Scott's personal journey across musical frontiers, taking in rock, jazz, blues, soul and country, hence the title "Passport". The album features all of these genres without fear or favour, demonstrating just what a versatile musician he is.
Coming along for the ride are many of the talented musicians and singers with whom Scott has worked over the years, together with some very special guests.
The album begins in fine style with the country-funk of "If It Ain't Wrong", which features the superbly soulful vocals of Liverpool's own Paul Dunbar, beautifully complemented by Scott's Allman Brothers-style harmony guitars. Scott wrote this [and four other songs on the album] with his regular songwriting partner and keyboard wizard/vocalist Chris Howard.
Scott and Chris also co-wrote the second track [and first single] "Keep Your Foot Down", a catchy, mod-soul number with Stax-style horn section, arranged by Steve Parry.
The only track on the album not written or co-written by Scott, is the deliciously funky cover of "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing", which was a 1965 hit for Fontella Bass [of "Rescue Me" fame] and Bobby McClure. Their duet is recreated by the excellent pairing of Paul Dunbar and Jennifer John. Jennifer has performed with major artists like Elton John and the late George Michael and she really shows her class on this fabulous version. Scott gives the number a Little Feat flavour, with a gorgeous slide guitar solo that Lowell George would have been proud of.
Another shift of style takes us into jazz-funk territory with an incredible instrumental called "Oznosis", which features the extraordinary playing of Israeli virtuoso jazz guitarist Oz Noy . This piece was written by Scott and sax maestro Mike Smith and reminds me greatly of the classic jazz-funk album "Headhunters" by Herbie Hancock. This perhaps is not so surprising as the first time I saw Scott and Mike playing together [about 15 years ago], they performed "Watermelon Man", from that very album, when members of Sefton Youth Jazz Orchestra.
"Oznosis" is in complete contrast to the next instrumental, the beautiful "Road To Ettrickbridge", a gentle Celtic/Country transatlantic crossover, on which Scott's fine dobro playing emulates that of his hero Jerry Douglas.
Scott frequently performs with talented singer-songwriter Joe Topping and Joe takes lead vocals on the tender ballad "The Bad Side Of Something Beautiful". The combination of Joe's emotive vocals and Scott's plangent pedal steel, gives the song an anthemaic feel.
One of Scott's influences is the legendary guitarist Albert Lee and Albert makes a guest appearance here, trading licks with Scott on the guitar instrumental "Night Terrors", which invokes the spirit of The Hellecasters, another of Scott's favourites.
The mood changes with the blues rock of "Over My Head", on which Paul Dunbar comes over as Liverpool' s answer to the late Joe Cocker, with some truly remarkable vocals. Scott adds a shimmering guitar solo to this slow burning rocker.
This wonderfully diverse album closes with a zany instrumental called "Rush Hour", played with incredible speed and dexterity by all concerned. Think of a turbocharged bluegrass version of "Hocus Pocus" and you might be halfway there.
In summary, this is a wonderfully varied album which demonstrates Scott's ability to transcend musical boundaries with incredible ease and great panache. Highly recommended.
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