Darrell Scott Modern Hymns

With this, his seventh release, Darrell Scott should be better known than he is. If you don’t know him by the songs he’s written for others, there’s a good chance he’s playing on something you own. Charting hits for the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill and Garth Brooks, he’s an expert writer and arranger, co-writing with Guy Clark and Tim O’Brien, while he’s played session on countless records for his skills on dobro, pedal steel, guitar, banjo and bass. He’s not hurtin’ for income and few artists are this knee-deep in so many careers, based on his mile-long list of talents. How refreshing, then, to see him tackle other songs from favourite artists like Gordon Lightfoot, Guy Clark, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and Hoyt Axton. Each gets his well-weathered treatment, blending country to folk, bluegrass and jazz while his vocals attempt to keep up. Playing alongside a who’s who of like-minded artists — Dirk Powell, Del and Ronnie McCoury, Danny Thompson — with Alison Krauss and Mary Gauthier pitching in, is reason enough to explore this record. Scott’s rearrangements of these treasures are convincing enough, yet the elevated calibre of the music sometimes dwarfs his vocal talents, which may be the only reason he’s not yet a household name. Yet hearty treats like his version of Leonard Cohen’s "Joan of Arc,” which transcends this plane, may change all that. His transformation of Metheny’s "James” serves as a wonderful introduction to the powers of his musical alchemy and, once exposed to his songwriting, you’ll be nicely hooked. (Appleseed)