When you’re someone like Scot Sax, keeping a rearview perspective on one’s career might be tempting.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter catapulted into the spotlight, after all, with the rock band Wanderlust and its 1995 RCA Records debut “Prize.” The band toured with Collective Soul and opened for The Who. Though such fame would be fleeting, Sax went on to an impressive, if eclectic, career. From writing hit songs for artists like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw to being hand-picked to open for Robert Plant and Allison Krauss and having his songs featured in films like “American Pie” and TV shows including “Ghost Whisperer” ” and “CSI: New York,” he’s experienced the music business from just about every angle.
But in recent years, the Philadelphia native has felt thwarted by a stalled momentum, which is why, after making his name in power pop with Wanderlust and bands like Feel and Bachelor Number One, he’s embracing a clean slate with the release of his new blues and Americana album “I’m in a Mood.”
“I discovered a genre that I was always at an arm’s length from and it clicked for me finally,” he says. “I basically saw myself at the end of a frustrating road and discovered a whole new road that I didn’t know existed for me.”
The album was recorded in one day with producer Cliff Hillis and a cast of musicians including drummer Josh Dion, electric and upright bassist Phil D’Agostino, vocalist Jessica Wilson and saw player Natalia Paruz. The expedited recording process, with its focus on simplicity and joyful immediacy, typifies Sax’s new approach to his craft. He wrote all the album’s songs on his porch, leisurely feeling his way into them without any thought to production treatments or polished final recordings.
“What I realized was the kind of songs I grew up writing and have earned a living writing are very structured pop songs,” he says. “With the blues, you can hang a whole song on a very plainspoken phrase. It doesn’t have to be so detailed where you’re trying to paint the perfect picture and put it in the perfect frame. It’s really cool to not have to reinvent the wheel when you write a song or reinvent the production. This is more news bullets as opposed to a novel.”
From the dusty, rambling charm of album opener “Hate to Love,” a witty contrast in impossible aspirations and determination, to the enigmatic and slinky “Sweaty Get Ready” and wheeling rockabilly of “Reflection in the Glass,” a slyly flirtatious co-write with wife Suzie Brown, Sax inhabits his new sound with ease. He’s at his cheeky, outrageous best on the country-flavored blues of “One-sy,” where he trades a cultish adulthood for the solace of slobber and Pee-wee Herman, and mines his pop roots with a dose of mellowed soul on the title cut, a warning he isn’t always the ebullient jokester he comes across as.
But it’s album closer, “Not Just Now and Then,” a tender duet with Brown, that perhaps best sums up this new and liberated Sax. As he sings with stark vulnerability about being surprised by love, he’s also reflecting upon finding his place, at last, in simpler, more traditional things.
“This isn’t about bright lights. It’s not Rodeo Drive. It’s about a long road. I haven’t for a long time felt like I have a path I could ride off into the sunset on,” says Sax. “I’m willing to basically start my career over from here on out and be an artist that people can trust.”
released November 9, 2013
All songs by Scot Sax except "Reflection In The Glass" by Scot Sax and Suzie Brown.
Co-writer of Grammy-winning "Like We Never Loved At All" for Faith Hill/Tim McGraw. Toured w/ Robert Plant/Alison Krauss,
opened for The WHO and his song "(I Am The) Summertime" is featured in the film American Pie. NOW, while Sax continues his musical journey, he shares his artwork and humour via greeting cards and t-shirts!...more