Album Review | Rod Picott's Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil

Rod Picott found himself free-soloing up a sheer face. The soles of his shoes slipping 2,000 feet above an abyss, imminent peril the likely result. While confronting impossible odds, Picott kept creating. And, after some semblance of normalcy was restored, he created some more. The result is a stunning work of art called Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil.

Picott has long been one of the great songwriters of his generation. His bonafides are well established, but this record cements him as something different. It is the best of an impressive catalog and there are a few clear reasons for that.

Born on either end of a major health scare, Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil is as raw as a fresh breakup wound, a reflection on the origin story of a man’s life as he stares down death and loneliness and wonders where to go from here. The record is not overly romantic. In fact, in parts it thumbs its nose at the notion of romanticizing life’s brutal bits.

The mood is one of sitting on a precipice looking down between dangling feet, taking in the struggle of of the climb. Celebrating progress while recognizing the mistakes that were and those that could have let to the catastrophic destruction of everything that matters.

The gift of this record is that it is a window into the thoughts and emotions of a great writer. Picott opens the cellar door on his fears, crutches, and desires. He leads us down the rickety steps of his psyche by shining a lantern on each rung. At the end of the journey we reach a room filled with hope. Not a dank, closed basement, but a space walled with doors and mirrors, reflections of ourselves leading to the possibility of self-discovery and improvement.

Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil demands heavy lifting from both artist and consumer. The work is rewarding. Rod Picott’s new record Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil comes out on July 19. Stay tuned to for a conversation with the man himself starting July 5th. It’ll pair well with your Fourth of July hangover.

Album Review | Reed Foehl's Lucky Enough

“We’ve all got holes to fill/Them holes are all that’s real” -Townes Van Zandt

Reed Foehl’s excellent album “Lucky Enough” (available 2/1/19) takes the listener on an existential journey to fill life’s holes. Written at an impossibly difficult time in Foehl’s life, while he was caring for his mother who was battling cancer, Foehl would be understood for writing a melancholy record. Lucky Enough ducks expectation. It does not feel melancholy. It feels settled. Not resigned, but at peace with life’s challenges and tribulations.

The common current running through Lucky Enough is acceptance. Going out and searching for something to make us whole. The album is sequenced as the tale of a person navigating existence, learning lessons, failing and growing, and finally finding a place and a person who fills in the holes.

Lucky Enough kicks off with the infectious melody of lovers “Stealing Starlight,” lyrics about the simple pleasures of life. The “taste of Basil Hayden’s” on the tongue. Footprints washed away in the sand. Sleeping in together. Stealing starlight.

But, as restless spirits are wont to do, our narrator takes off cross country clicking through “American Miles.” It’s a cinematic tune a la Bon Iver. A restive tale that acknowledges all the narrator loves is all he knows.

Who knows what we are going to encounter on that road; that American road, the one serving as a metaphor for our life’s journey. The journey is long yet it feels at times like it is flying by too quickly to grasp. It “takes a long time to make old friends,” our narrator tells us. And, really, we are just “charting the courses of carousel horses,” lost in this day-to-day.

Sometimes we feel we should be “on an Island” like the protagonist in the opening track to Lucky Enough’s side B. He admonishes us to remember that “You don’t know me till you can walk in my shoes.” But an island is no place for a battle.

Our struggles can seem so enormous yet really we ultimately “running out of nothing left to do.” A regiment of blinding agents keeps us moored to our carousel. None of us on our own really knows what we are doing. We need each other to navigate this world.

Foehl employs an almost whimsical feel to help his narrator work through this existential angst on the heavy yet fun “I Wish I Knew.” Ultimately, the heady musings of Lucky Enough come to the realization that what we all need is someone or some group of souls to fill in our holes. We can only do so much on our own. Once we have rambled the miles, made and lost friends, endured the day-to-day, and run out of nothing left to do we are faced with ourselves. Our strengths, our insecurities, our charms, our anxieties- all of it needs the tempering influence of people we love.

Lucky Enough ends with the arresting “Color Me In.” “What will you do with me, my darlin’?” Foehl’s narrator asks, followed by an entreaty to come and lay with him, to relish the moment they have together. Together they can make it. No, together they will make it. What may not be possible alone is attainable with someone there to fill the holes.

-Jason Earle