The aural bombardment of some schmuck tickling the ivories to songs you’ve never heard (or worse—covers!) can be the pits when you’re stuck in a crowded room with booze on your mind, but if the man behind the piano is R. Scott, the time between drinks will be as fulfilling as that eventual first sip. Scott’s latest solo disc, Mad Forms & Twisted Poses, is a perfectly crafted blend of New Orleans jazz, soul and cabaret, and it’s likely even more of a joy to experience live.
The 12-track disc is actually two records in one: six songs of an upbeat, Bourbon-soaked combination of melodicas, banjos, trombones and tubas mixed with tales of lasting love and keepin’ on; the remaining six are organ/mellotron/Wurlitzer-based tunes (think gospel without the religion). Scott calls it Americana soul. The keyboardist provides an all-inclusive, American sound at times reminiscent of Brian Wilson’s Smile.
From the opening notes of the Cajun-seasoned “The Battle Wage” to the sober melody of closer “Away,” Scott’s weathered voice transports listeners to every whiskey-stained, smoke-laden stage he has ever set his instrument on. He probably wouldn’t make the cut on American Idol, nor would any baseball team pick him to sing the National Anthem, but Scott possesses the sort of conviction that AutoTune cannot manufacture. When singing isn’t his focus, Scott’s fingers create a mint-julep-flavored sound on “(Ev’rything’ll) Work Out Fine” and an uplifting, out-of-nowhere transition on “When Sound Had Feel.”
Listen closely, and you can almost hear Louis Armstrong’s raspy pipes chiming through at least half of these songs. In most circumstances, any appearance by Armstrong would make a record infinitely better, but the Lakewood-based Scott’s tunes are so hopping that even the late jazz legend couldn’t make this disc any spicier.