My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Michael Hughes

EP Review: Ray Scott – ‘Honky Tonk Heart’

Ray Scott has self-released a series of full length albums since his departure from Warner Brothers over a decade ago. This year he has instead produced a five-track EP, produced by Michael Hughes, with all the songs being written or co-written by Ray. Such a short set means no room for fillers.

He opens with the energetic country rock title track which celebrates his life choices as a musician:

I worked my ass off on Music Row
Tryin’ to get on the radio
Like Alan said those wheels turn slow
And I had to tell ’em all where to go
When they tried to make me a pop star
I got me a honky tonk heart

Yeah, I ain’t no fake-ass country star
I got me a honky tonk heart
Yeah and I love a steel guitar

He spits out the words pop star with noticeable hatred.

Next is the highlight, ‘It Is What It Is’, a regretful ballad in which a husband stays out at the bar with little idea as to where his wife might be:

She’d give me that look
When we laid down at night
Now she just looks away
And turns out the light
I don’t think she hates me
But she ain’t in love

It is what it is
Cause it ain’t what it was

There’s a blonde here tonight
And she’s givin’ me the eye
And she’s smilin’
Sittin’ right over there
If I left with that lady
If I called her baby
I wonder
Would mine even care?
(Oh, would you care?)

I’ve got an old friend
That lives in Des Moines
He’s got a spare bedroom
It’s reached the point
Where it’s harder to stay
Than it would be to run

‘Trainwreck’ picks the pace back up, with Ray repelling a sexy woman not in it for the long run:

You want a husband but you don’t want one
Unless he already belongs to someone
Your kind of woman lives for the drama
So just wiggle that sweet caboose on down the line

Hey trainwreck
This ain’t your station
These lovin’ arms ain’t your destination
Some fool’s gonna fall for your temptation
But hey trainwreck
This ain’t your station

In the gently sad ‘Leave This Town’, Ray wants to head to his home state of Carolina to get over a broken heart and “hit reset on my life”.

The all-too-short set closes with ‘Thank You Baby’, a sincerely delivered tribute to Ray’s wife.

This is a very good collection, which I recommend strongly.

Grade: A

Album Review: Ray Scott – ‘Guitar For Sale’

Ray Scott, originally from North Carolina, has been around for over a decade, scoring one top 40 hit with Warner Brothers with ‘My Kind Of Music’. Since that deal fell through, most of his career has been under the radar, self-releasing his music digitally. His fifth album, produced by his friend Michael Hughes, is a strong effort. He leans mainly to the traditional, with some more modern sounds creeping in. Scott has a big deep voice, but in the past has had a tendency to lapse into talking rather than singing. Happily that tendency is largely forgotten this time around.

The well-chosen official single, ‘Livin’ This Way’, is a fine, thoughtful song about a man trapped in a pattern of drinking (or using drugs – it’s not quite clear) and drying out.

The title track, set to a stripped down acoustic guitar arrangement, is another excellent song. It is about a musician giving up music for what he has found matters more:

It’s been right here beside me
While I lived out my dreams
Yeah but I think it’s about time I bid an old friend farewell
Guitar for sale

Yeah I’d’ve never found my reason for living
Without this old guitar
But I won’t let what brought us together tear us apart
No I won’t

She misses my kisses
She hates when I’m gone
And she’s sacrificed many a night
In this house alone
And oh who am I kiddin’
What more do I need
Than the love of this sweet little angel
Lying next to me?

The gently mournful lost-love ballad ‘Growin’ Old’ is also excellent, bolstered by some gorgeous steel guitar.

‘Sobering Up’ is a downbeat questioning whether the protagonist’s lover has fallen out of love with him, with alcohol as the metaphor. It is another fine track. ‘Put Down That Gun’ is on a similar theme but rather more lighthearted (even if she is threatening to shoot him):

Baby take a deep breath
Ease that hammer back down
I don’t know what it is that you think I did
But I promise it’ll never ever happen again
Baby let’s get married
Yeah let’s do it right now

A much darker song is ‘Worth Killing For’, a brooding song about a man on the verge a of a life changing decision if his romantic rival doesn’t back down.

‘Pray For The Fish’ was recorded by Randy Travis in 2002 (on his Rise And Shine album), but you can’t quite call Ray’s version a cover as he co-wrote it. It’s a pretty decent version, albeit more heavily produced than the original.

The swampy ‘Put Down The Bottle’ has an interesting lyric about planning on making a change in the protagonist’s drinking ways, but is unnecessarily heavily produced and lacking in melody. ‘The Fire’, drawing lyrically on the Mark Knopfler song ‘The Bug’ (familiar to country fans from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version), as well as being smothered by electric guitar, is plain dull, as is ‘Doin’ Me Wrong’. The attitude-filled ‘Life Ain’t Long Enough’ is a bit busy, but not bad.

Overall, this is a solid album worth checking out.

Grade: B+