Time passes quickly. Americana artists Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott first came together back in the year 2000 for the album Real Time. They next surfaced together for a series of concerts in 2005 and 2006, which became a live album which was released last year under the title, Live: We’re Usually A Lot Better Than This. Now they have finally reunited in the studio and their new album, Memories and Moments, has a September 17 release date.
Their individual careers have kept them busy. O’Brien spent time in Mark Knopfler’s touring band and Scott played in Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. Scott has received two Grammy nominations along the way, while O’Brien’s album, Fiddler’s Green, won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.
Given who they are as artists, they use a simple recording process. It is basically just the two of them with their guitars with no overdubs or added extras. What they played in the studio is what was released on the album.
They each contributed five compositions, plus co-wrote one more together. Add in covers of George Jones’ “Just One More,” Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken,” and finish it off with John Prine’s “Paradise,” who also contributes some vocals to the track, and you have an Americana album of note.
Their previous albums, particularly their live release, had a number of solos. Here the focus in more on the words and they rarely leave the structures of the songs. Several of the songs have some bite to them. This is especially true with “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” which explores the issue of mountaintop removal by coal companies. They travel in a different direction with the gospel-like hymn “Life’s Other Side” and the poignant title tune.
Many of the songs have lyrics that can best be described as poetic journalism, which are encased in simple melodies. It may seem sparse at times but the words do grab and keep your attention and ultimately make you think a little.
Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, individually and collectively, are modern-day American troubadours who communicate through their music. At this point in their career, they have established a style and sound which speaks to the mind and soul.