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Rod Picott (from the album Starlight Tour on Welding Records) (By Lee Zimmerman)
Like many of the great journeymen of past generations, Rod Picott relays his stories and songs from a true blue-collar perspective. He’s never forgotten his rural roots, a fact that’s always been evidenced through his steadfast delivery and music that resonates with a stoic sensibility that’s infused through clarity and conviction.
Naturally then, those rustic references reverberate through each of the ten tracks that make up Picott’s exceptional new album. Produced by Neilson Hubbard — who boasts is own superior track record as both an artist and producer — Starlight Tour embodies the decided determination that’s been an essential element in each of the 13 albums Picott’s released over the span of the past 20 years. Whether it’s the gruffness and gravitas of a workingman’s anthem such as “Digging Ditches”, the combination of resignation and resolve echoed in the sobering “Television Preacher”, or the tender tale of a farmer’s desperation and despair as shared in “Combine”, Picott manages to convey a series of indelible impressions and an immediate connection with his listeners.
Those sentiments are effectively summed up in “A Puncher’s Chance”, a simply stated tale of a boxer who’s forced to come to grip with his failures without allowing regret or remorse to stand in the way. ‘Always the underdog and never the champ, Busted and broken a beat-up tramp’. Similar in stance to Paul Simon’s classic tale “The Boxer”, it’s equally emphatic and no less tragic.
Still, Starlight Tour is far more than a survey of people who are forlorn and forgotten. The upbeat “Homecoming Queen”, a co-write with Amy Speace, celebrates hometown champions and those that find triumph even in adversity. So too, despite its downcast designs, the title track reflects the power of perseverance. Likewise, the rollicking “Wastelands’ shines as an uplifting anthem, one that celebrates Picott’s red clay origins in no uncertain terms. The evocative imagery conveys his absolute affection for the place where he was born and raised.
‘The beautiful wasteland of these Georgia hills
Like God got tired and let it spill
From his hands all the red clay and the southern pines
You find your way and I’ll find mine
Out here in the wasteland…’
Rod Picott’s cinematic style comes naturally, given that he’s also an accomplished author. However, he’s also a master of melody, and the album’s final two tracks, “Pelican Bay” and “Time to Let Go of Your Dreams” offer an affecting farewell. So too, Hubbard’s rich arrangements — sweetly textured with pedal steel, mandolin, piano, glockenspiel and trumpet — add a further layer of depth and dimension to these beautiful proceedings.
Ultimately then, Starlight Tour allows for a remarkable journey, a landmark album that further defines Rod Picott as both a master storyteller and a skilled songwriter. It is, in fact, a work so poignant and powerful, it’s all but impossible to ignore. (by Lee Zimmerman)
For more info, check out the Rod Picott website
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