Singer-songwriter and musician Rod Picott is prepping to release a new album. Dropping on July 19, it’s titled Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
According to his website, seventeen years ago Rod Picott dropped his tool belt, picked up an acoustic guitar and released his first album Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues. Picott is a native of Southern Maine. He discussed his move to Nashville on social media:
“I moved to Nashville looking for a writer’s deal. I got close a few times, but it never materialized. One meeting ended with a publisher telling me that I was an artist and that I should figure out a way to make records – that the songs were great but not the kind of pop candy Nashville deals in.”
He added: “I took him at his word and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Against everyone’s prediction and advice – I turned myself into a touring singer-songwriter. The lesson? Nobody else knows how hard you are willing to work except you.”
Today his rippin’ resume includes 11 previous platters, two books of poetry, God In His Slippers, and Murmuration, a screenplay and a collection of short stories, titled Out Past The Wires, after his recent recording of the same name. Of his writing Picott said:
“I’m very prolific. People always ask me how I get so much writing done. I always have the same answer: No wife, no kids, no pets. I love the work. My blue-collar background gave me a work ethic that has no ‘off‘ switch. Writing songs and books beats the h*ll out of hanging sheetrock. That I’m absolutely sure of.”
His signature sound is a blend of alternative country, Americana and folk. His musical style is vaguely comparable to Woody Guthrie or perhaps stripped down Springsteen. In fact, Picott said:
“The first show I ever saw was Springsteen at The Music Hall in Boston 1978. It changed my life. I didn’t know you could be a rock star and sing about the community you came from. That show tilted my world upside down and shook the contents.”
Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil
Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil is Picott’s 12th album. It features Picott on vocals, guitar, and harmonica. He adds that he said it “is by far the most intimate recording I’ve made, stripped to the bone, just the guitar, harmonica and me.”
Track by track
This 12-track album of all original material opens on “Ghost.” It’s clear from the start that Picott truly does intend to “tell the truth and shame the devil.” “Bailing” is a song founded in Picott’s past and is another example of how his past impacts on his present.
Not to be confused with the Ramones’ 1984 tune, this “Mama’s Boy” was co-written with Slaid Cleaves. They must be old friends because the song works well here and no one would know it was co-composed if not for the album credits. “Mark” is a song about an old schoolmate who committed suicide. It’s a sad but not truly uncommon tale.
“Spartan Hotel” is an oldie but a goodie. Despite his having written it decades ago it remains fresh. His Dylanesque performance style remains strong and intact as well.
“Too Much Rain” is a musical metaphor that focuses on self-exploration and relationships. It is complete with his whispery vocals and oft’times haunting harmonica. “A Beautiful Light” is another example of tuneful teamwork as it was co-written with Ben de la Cour. The detailed and descriptive lyrics remain.
The consistency remains on “A 38 Special & A Hermes Purse” as does Picott’s signature sound. The song is solid. “80 John Wallace” was co-composed with Stacy Dean Campbell. Much like other cuts, it is relatively quiet and yet definitely effective.
“A Guilty Man” provides more self-revelatory material and yet much of even that on the album is perhaps often universal or certainly not uncommon. Are we not all somehow guilty men?
Next is “Sunday Best.” Anyone in their 50s can appreciate and picture what goes on here. Regardless of your age though, the song simply works. The album endnote, “Folds Of Your Dress”, is a somewhat regretful song with a life lesson fold into it. It’s a quiet, confessional closing cut.
Overall, the album contains bare, honest vocals in acoustically-driven, original material. Moreover, the disc made your rockin’ reviewer think of a scruffy, middle-aged traveling troubadour singing for his supper by performing his personal presentation on a little stage in a smoke-filled little dive where no one cares about the surgeon general because the semi-soused regulars live in the middle of Nowhere, USA. His music fills them with a secret sense of camaraderie.
It is, in essence, an honest audio offering of simply presented songs of self-examination and personal revelation. So check out Rod Picott’s Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil, because you might enjoy the sincere song-stories of a “Guilty Man.”