Ray Scott fights for traditionalism on self-titled album

Ray Scott Album

"There’s so much cool stuff out there, that’s not on mainstream radio," the rock-soaked red-dirt traditionalist Ray Scott says, an appropriate summation of his newly-minted self-titled LP. "Cool" seems to be the driving force behind the gritty, bold 11 tracks; while he certainly leans into radio trends with the lead sample "Drinking Beer," it's not an accurate representation of the album as a whole. There are moments throughout the collection, such as "Papa and Mama" and "Wheels On The House" (co-written with 2014's breakout Brandy Clark), that plow through the surface and enter an electrically-charged, captivating place.

"Tijuana Buzzkill" isn't your typical party affair, instead it shifts into a nuanced story–much like Dierks Bentley's "Drunk On A Plane." That's what separates Scott from most artists: he offers up truly honest stories, enveloped in steel guitar and vibrant rhythms. There's also a noted self-awareness. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but lets the melodies and lyrics live on their own. "It Ain't Gonna Be You" (a tormented lament), "Her Old Man" and "The Ugly One" (a particularly soulful standout) are laced with inspired grooves, but never avoid the emotion. He carresses the lyrics with an understated sensuality (as evidenced on the last track in this sequence) and fearlessness.

When you think you know what's coming next, Scott rips your heart from your chest and pulls back the reigns for a moving performance. "Leave This World" is one of his finest moments of his career—a blistering, slow-building song hoisted with romantic idealism. Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line should be mindful of how to deliver a love-strewn ode with authentically entralling skill. The closer, another stunning guitar-laden recipe, "I Miss The Days," wraps up  an album that is as spellbinding as it is genre-bending. Scott pushes the envelope in noticeably mountainous ways, but the softer valleys are equally as remarkable.

Must-Listen Tracks: "Wheels On The House," "The Ugly One," "Leave This World"

Grade: 4/5

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