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Seventeen years ago Rod Picott dropped his tool belt, picked up an acoustic guitar and released his first album Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues. The acclaimed debut put a nail in the coffin of his construction career and ignited his second career as a singer-songwriter. With his new album, Out Past The Wires, that second career reveals itself in full flame.
The sprawling twenty-two song Out Past The Wires ranges from whispery ballads to guitar driven rockers and hits every musical spot between. Like much of Picott’s catalog, many of the songs on Out Past The Wires center around the lives of working people and the losses, defeats and small victories that can come hard won in a calloused world. It is here in the ordinary where Picott finds the gold he mines so beautifully on songs such as “Take Home Pay” – one of four songs written with longtime friend and co-writer Slaid Cleaves.
“I'm on my way down to the pawnshop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to I’ll hit the blood bank
I’m bone dry but I can always bleed”
But there is also an air of defiance that runs through many of the songs this time around. On “Fire Inside” Picott growls.
“I got fire down inside
a heart darlin’ beating hard and wild
In the pouring rain
I will stand and testify
Cause I got a fire down inside.”
Picott’s eye for the revealing detail and sense of empathy has brought praise from music critics since his debut and those qualities, as well as a potent defiance is on full display across Out Past The Wires. Now 52 years old and nine albums into his music career Picott is more prolific than ever. The twenty-two songs were culled from a staggering number of seventy-eight. In the two years between Fortune and Out Past The Wires, Picott has also become a published poet (God In His Slippers – Mezcalita Press) written a screenplay and is releasing collection of short stories, also titled Out Past The Wires, that accompanies the release of the album. Many of the characters from the songs on the album find their stories expanded and even more finely detailed in the book.
For production duties Picott turned again to Neilson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Matthew Perryman Jones) who produced Picott’s most recent album Fortune. The recording band consisted of Will Kimbrough/Electric Guitars (Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell) Lex Price/Bass (K.D. Lang), Evan Hutchings/Drums (Brandi Carlisle) and Kris Donegan/Electric Guitars (Sara Evans). The band worked quickly in studio, relying on the instincts of world-class players and Hubbard’s steady hand to guide the ambitious project.
Out Past The Wires is the latest and one of the most potent pieces of work from Rod Picott since he left his hammer to rust and sharpened a new set of tools all those years ago. Picott will be touring throughout 2018 and 2019 in support of the album and book release
Year End Note:
2018!… interesting year. I’ve seen more doctors this year than in my entire lifetime. I could have skipped that part. I had the best European tour in all my years crossing the pond thanks to Lucky Dice Music, Bob Patterson, Camilla Sorhus and John Graveling who laid all the ground work 18 years ago. The release of Out Past The Wires was met with great reviews. I’m grateful for the continued support from my small but incredibly loyal audience. I thank Neilson Hubbard for his artistic guidance (not to mention keeping track of all those songs). I thank Maria Ivey for her best efforts to spread the word about the album.
Rolling Stone featured a song from Out Past The Wires on their website which was thrilling. I released two books – collection of short stories (also titled Out Past The Wires) that accompanied the album thanks to Mezcalita Press and its captain – the wonderful poet Nathan Brown as well as his eagle-eyed editor wife Ashley Brown. I also released a second volume of poetry titled Murmuration. I threw more ink across more pages than I’ve ever spilled in a single year of my life. In a few interviews I blamed this feverish production on fear of mortality, which may or may not be true. I have no idea how these things work. I know I still love the work. Thanks to Tasha Thomas for the beautiful photographs that grace the book covers. Thanks to Stacie Huckeba for her amazing video and design skills and enormous heart. Thanks to Jen Tortorici for grabbing my shirt collar when I walked up to the edge of cynicism and tried to look over the edge.
Some non-career highlights include lunch with my literary hero, the wickedly talented Nicholson Baker, who I revere for his rare gifts of truth and complete lack of manipulation of his readers. I also be-friended (in that way that artists do when they recognize something of themselves in another artist) the wonderful writer Wallace Stroby whose raging crime fiction is worthy of Elmore Leonard comparison. I read more great books this year than in the last five years combined. In some ways 2018 was a hard fought year. Continually plagued by a choric son-of-a-bitch of a back and a few other things I won’t go into here – accomplishments came harder won in 2018. The result, as you might guess, is that I’m more grateful than ever for the support I’ve received from audiences both large and small, critics and music lovers from all around the rock we spin around on. I finally played the Red Dragon Listening Room in Baton Rouge which had been one of my goals for many years.
The end of the year is of course an arbitrary marker of time. The future just keeps rolling out in front of us regardless of our attempts to push pause (or rewind for that matter). As I look back at the worthy adversary that was 2018 I can only say thank you for noticing my work, reading the pages I wrote, listening to the songs and coming through for me once again. I did not hang a single sheet of sheetrock in 2018 – that should be and is enough.
The New Album – Out Past the Wires
Rolling Stone says -
Rod Picott, "Dead Reckoning"
As stark and stoic as Bruce Springsteen's stripped-down solo work, "Dead Reckoning" shines a light on the raw, real beauty of Rod Picott's storytelling and sandpaper-scrubbed voice. Out Past the Wires, his double-disc collection of darkly desperate folk songs, marks the highlight of a career that began in his mid-thirties, after he'd already logged more than a decade as a sheetrock hanger. Here, he funnels the worn-down wooziness of his former day job into a track about love won and lost, with harmonies from the Wild Ponies' Telisha Williams and a melody that warms – then breaks – the heart. R.C.
“Rod Picott paints his masterpiece..” – Tekst Sjoerd Punter / Alt Country Forum
“Picott as far as I am concerned, definitely in the absolute top.” – Ctrl. Alt. Country
“Highly recommended!” – Lambert Smits / Keys and Chords
“Belongs to Picott's best work” – Cis van Looy / Written In Music
“mesmerizing” - Rolling Stone.com
“songs like Raymond Carver short stories” - Houston Chronicle
“proves once again he’s a ringmaster at turning misery into art” - Boston Globe
“carefully crafted and vibrant” - American Songwriter
“perfectly crafted” - NewsHub
“it’s the songwriting that really makes the difference” - The Bluegrass Situation
“a truly great songwriter” - 3rd Coast Music
“poignant, blatantly honest and emotive” - The Boot
“seriously gifted” - No Depression