Wednesday, August 8, 2012


It's always fascinating watching the machine work.  And nobody works it better than Nashville.  And let's not kid ourselves, there's been a machine in place since the 60's, when Countrypolitan came online with its Billy Sherrill-produced strings and heartbreak.  Nashville, despite all the singers and songwriters clamoring to be heard, is a small industry town, and when it moves in one direction, you either follow or get left behind. 

Here's how it works these days:  It's not the singer, or the song, it's the package.  After all, there's a surplus of talent, so the key is to put together all the pieces around a person with personality, and make a fresh new face.  After all, nobody's going to be buying Randy Travis records anymore, and they haven't been for a long, long time.  New is key.

Marlee Scott is new, and a talented singer.  She has that, and a lot more going for her, including a unique image.  She's been doing an internet cooking show for the past year, a funny series of webisodes with her own food and drink recipes.  She also has her own YouTube channel with a difference, where you can watch her cover other hits in a bit called "I Love This Song".  Pretty ingenious, creating a fan club before her own debut album comes out.  Instead of slogging it out over thousands of miles in a tour van like new rock bands, she's been playing guest sets at sporting events, courting the auto racing and baseball audiences.

For that debut album, called Beautiful Maybe, that small Nashville winner's club is here, the same credits you'll see on almost every hit album this year.  The songwriters include Troy Verges, Aimee Mayo, Desmond Child, and Blair Daly.  The studio players are Dan Dugmore, Michael Rhodes, Chad Cromwell, Jason Scheff, all A-listers.  This is no-fail stuff, the best you find on Music Row.

Wait, there's more.  There's a hit breaking, called Train Wreck.  It has that half-country, half-rock thing happening, with fiddle, steel, and banjo licks weaving around power chords.  There's even a, get this, country version of a rap in the middle, as Scott spits out a couple of versions at triple speed.  There's a video, and even a dance mix.  Country has, and will use everything these days.

Anyway, as I say, it's always fascinating to watch the machine make a star.  And I can't say as I argue with it too much, as Scott's an engaging presence, and all these songs have a good solid guitar groove to them, plus well-crafted lyrics.  Perhaps it's a prejudice I bring over from the rock world, that each artist should write the bulk of their stuff, have their own band, pay their dues touring, that somehow that makes them more legitimate.  I've come to think of it more as pop music, and in that context, I'll take it over most of what's happening on the regular top 40.

No comments:

Post a Comment