Folk-rock band the Waterboys’ new album Out of All This Blue continues where 2015’s Modern Blues left off – with plenty of twang-and-groove plucked from Music City’s playbook.
The group’s 14th studio release, recorded in Ireland and Japan, filters country and blues through a world traveler’s lens. Scottish songwriter Mike Scott, the leader of the band, penned 23 tracks for the rootsy new double album, including tunes about Tokyo, Santa Fe and New York. But it’s “Nashville, Tennessee” that won’t let him go. “I’m one part psychedelic gypsy, and three parts blue-eyed refugee,” he sings on the fiddle-infused road song featuring longtime Waterboys violinst Steve Wickham. “My soul is in Memphis, but my ass is in Nashville, Tennessee.”
Scott’s silly send-up of Texas Renaissance man Kinky Friedman (“Kinky’s History Lesson”) is a wry globalist soliloquy about 20th-century politics set to a two-step rhythm, while bonus track “The Memphis Fox” is a barnstorm of backbeats with organ by Kentucky’s Brother Paul and bass from original Muscle Shoals Swamper David Hood.
Scott may wears big hats and sparkly jackets, but his love for Nashville hasn’t transformed him into a full-on rhinestone cowboy yet. He says the Waterboys’ 1980s “Big Music” rock is still in the frame, as is a knack for three-chord pop melodies, like the ones that boost the new tunes “If I Was Your Boyfriend” (inspired by his recent marriage and two young kids), and “Do We Choose Who We Love” (co-written over email with Freddie Stevenson). “I’m just prolific,” Scott says of his band’s fat new album. “The gears are always working.”
Out of All This Blue will be released on September 8th.