Hilary Scott has come a long way from the extraordinarily gifted singer-songwriter with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a stage more than a few times back in our days playing bars and small venues in and around Columbia, Missouri.
I liked Don’t Call Me Angel instantly, but I had to give it a few listens before I realized what it was about this album that really “gets” me. At first I thought it was the diversity of the music, and that surely plays a large role, but there was something else. Then it hit me, it’s not just how the songs are written, but how they are arranged. There’s a maturity there that most don’t have, and an artistry that rivals some of my favorite musicians.
Let me get the obvious stuff out of the way:
Scott’s voice. Sweet, edgy, raunchy, steady, and emotionally whenever the music or lyrics call for it. Throughout that range, her voice is always beautiful. Her harmonies are well placed and arranged to trigger a shiver up the spine (succeeding multiple times at that in my case).
The Prince tribute. Other than the first track for which the album is titled, this could be what people will notice first. I love Kiss. To me, it’s the penultimate song by one of the true geniuses of our time and all time (RIP). Kiss isn’t covered here. It’s played. As a part of Don’t Call Me Angel, it is a Hilary Scott song that just happens to be written by someone who’s not Hilary Scott.
As for what “gets” me, that’s not exactly an easy thing to explain.
The second track, Not Used To Being Used To, is easily my favorite of the album. In one song you’ll hear blues, R&B, and Rock blended seamlessly. You’ll hear cynicism bred from past pain transition to surprise and hope that a present situation promises for the future. It’s not often that a song’s melody, accompaniment, and lyrics mesh perfectly. This song shot more than a few shivers down my spine. It causes the pleasant feeling at the base of my skull that lets me know that I’m listening to something that I will come back to again and again. Years from now, I’ll still be turning Used To Being Used To on for a listen.
A few more highlights that I think represent the whole very well:
You Will Be Mine: the kind of southern rock I’d have never guessed Scott capable of back when executed perfectly.
Make it Right: the opening chord progression resolves perfectly, the last two lines of each stanza echo that resolution, and the ballad’s intensity builds so organically you don’t notice until it mellows out a bit for a Hammond B-3 feature and then picks the intensity right back up for the song’s climax
Heartless: the bridge onward. Just…damn.
Moon and Back: the piano and backing vocals really pull me in, the atmospheric ending is a surprise and I like surprises (caution: you just read a spoiler)
It is immediately apparent that Don’t Call Me Angel is an act of love and passion. No filler. No gimmicks. Each track has its own character. Each was crafted for its own sake. And each is undoubtedly part of Hilary Scott.”