Scott Smith -Igniting the Flame (EP)
Igniting The Flame – Scott Smith’s latest EP, is a six track little slice of wonder, with every last song counting as much as the next. It plays like an album, only short on songs but long on melody, catchiness and everything that makes for a good EP collection. This is an EP that makes you want to hear the second half, it’s that contagious. Produced by Julie Wolf (Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco) at the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, where CCR and Santana, among other legends, have recorded. Julie Wolf was called upon to help bring out the best in Scott Smith’s vocal arrangements which at times differ from the music.
It’s all laced together without a flaw, turning in a finely produced six songs that show the right choices of who to work with on this project were made. That also includes all the musicians on the EP, starting with keyboard player Spencer Burroughs proving bottom end textures that keep the music deep without going overboard. Smith’s lyrics aren’t actually-very deep, but they are meaningful. Mavis Staple back-up singer Vickie Randall is also very instrumental in making these songs have a lighter appeal to them. This is all done very cleverly when it comes to the songwriting and how it’s recorded in the studio.
The songs really speak for themselves with “Drop Kick It” showing that country and rock music can use horns without calling it jazz or something else. This is not only a rocking track, but it also packs a dancefloor without being from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s a very high energy opener and a song you just don’t want to end. It’s worth the price of admission and then some, complete with fiery guitar licks of the incendiary order. This really gets the ball up and running with zero hesitation. But you don’t know what you’re in for next, and what happens next is always the idea.
The game just gets better, to Scott Smith’s fortune, as the blazing “Ignite The Flame” with its mass use of strings and the featured voice of Vickie Randall to make it really shine. The lyrics on this song don’t exactly take a back seat, but there’s an Americana meets rhythm & blues admixture to this, and it goes beyond whatever the song is about, which really speaks volumes on its own as the title opus. But it’s a major breath of fresh air when you hear this. And they lose no steam with more rhythm & blues on the also very spiritual and highly percussive “My Soul To Keep.” It’s not gospel either, but it sure has that flavor and helps Smith almost defy categorization.
The San Francisco roots he obviously possesses aren’t very easy to spot, it’s in his musicianship and songwriting, which come from a lot of experience, and this EP is all playing meets songwriting, meets production values on an even plane. It’s a seamless piece of work that is evidently maintained throughout the six well-crafted songs. It does the talking while where he’s been is in the past to find himself in a new era, and that’s just an observation of Scott Smith the artist. Tracks like “Rolling Home” and “Bulls Eye To My Heart” only show more sides to the story, and you can expect them to rock and swing as good as anything on “Ignite The Flame.”