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Rod Picott

Fortune – 2015 (Welding Rod)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by Rod Picott

Rod Picott was born and raised in the Northeast, but these days he is all about the road. Now based in Nashville, Picott has carved up a tasty slice of Americana for himself, and his appetites display starkly on "Fortune." The music is honest, solid and, at its best, speaks to the heart.

Picott's troubadour road is oft-travelled, and he is a card-carrying member of the nation of Three Chords and The Truth. Most of the pieces on the new release are effective, a few affected. "Fortune," on balance, is a strong showing of Picott's songwriting skills. All of the songs are written, or co-written, by Picott, one ("Drunken Barber's Hand") with fellow New England transplant Slaid Cleaves.

When Picott's muse strikes, the result is powerful. "Jeremiah" should be on any Veteran's Day playlist. The lyrics overpower the maudlin subject: a dead soldier struck down in his prime ("Sisters cry. Dads can't speak. Girls like me sleep alone.") In the same way, the opener "Maybe That's What It Takes" serves up straight-ahead love and longing.

"Elbow Grease" and "I Was Not Worthy Your Love" are dirt-on-the-boots country, yet sound like excellent demos for an artist with a big hat and banjo synthesizer backing.

Other times, the phrasing can offer a bit too much: less can be more with such simple arrangements. "Uncle John" is just creepy: a paean to a crazy old relative who has nine fingers, more progeny than he can keep track of and avoids people ("He's in the woods where he belongs"). Got it.