Rod Picott – Starlight Tour
Rod Picott – Starlight Tour
Format: CD – Digital
Label: Welding Rod Records
Release date: October 20, 2023
Recording an album is a mysterious, stressful and joyous experience. I am always simultaneously shot through with anxiety and hope. Unlike many of the albums I’ve recorded in the past, I did not go in with extra songs. I didn’t have a lot of back up material for Starlight Tour, partially because I was very carefully weeding songs along the writing process but also because it’s gotten harder to write something fresh to my own ears.
The great Guy Clark did a lot of co-writing in his later years and I did a fair bit on this album as well. One must drop their ego at the threshold of the studio door and make the best album possible in that very moment. In that very moment. That is an important idea because unlike major label recording stars; we are working with a strict budget and an even stricter timeline. It’s intimidating. We have to give my very best with every single take. There is scant room for error, or rather there’s tons of room for error but it will reveal itself in the album – forever – over and over.
I had ten songs, crossed fingers, a great band, a great engineer, producer and five days to make the best possible album. I honestly feel that Starlight Tour is one of the best three albums I’ve made. They aren’t my children. I’m not that type or artist. My albums are pieces of work – they might as well be the bed frame I made, the counters I built or the pine plank floor I put down with hand-cut nails. There are moments – ‘Digging Ditches’, ‘A Puncher’s Chance’, ‘Pelican Bay’ and ‘Time to Let Go Of Your Dreams’ – that seemed blessed by something outside our own collective talents. We caught lightning. When we started the playback of ‘Time To Let Go Of Your Dreams’, I had to leave the control room. Crying at your own work is…uncomfortable. That’s not to say the rest of the album falls short. Starlight Tour plays out beautifully. It’s a very easy listen and glides effortlessly from song to song.
There is a thread of melancholy (my stock-in-trade), defiance and reckoning that runs through Starlight Tour. Many of the songs are first person narratives. Some of those narratives are me. Some of them could have been me had my DNA and natural proclivities been a different stripe. But a tiger has to be a tiger and the deer has to be the deer I always remind myself. ‘Starlight Tour’ contains some of my very strongest writing. This is the album where I wrote my own story and tried very hard not to hold back either the tears or the anger – and there was enough of both to fill the ditch in.
The album is raw. I’ve visited raw before but not like we did on Starlight Tour. Most of that unvarnished quality comes from the songs themselves but there was also something unusual that happened in the actual recording. We hit on a rhythmic element I’ve rarely explored. It came naturally and instinctive. Producer Neilson Hubbard and I had many conversations about what our thematic sound was going to be when we went in. We came out completely surprised. It was like there was some extra grease in the recording console this time. That grease combined with the eloquence of the band – Lex Price on bass and mandolin; Juan Solorzano on electric guitars, acoustic guitars, piano and anything we could put in his hands, Neilson Hubbard on drums, gives Starlight Tour a “sound”.
It’s like an aural fingerprint. The album sounds like me and yet it sounds new, fresh, it breathes with truth. It’s not miles away from my other work but it lives on a different street corner. I honestly didn’t think we could beat Welding Burns or Paper Hearts & Broken Arrows but I think we did. Or it’s a draw.
October 15: Westwoud – De Schalm, De Holland Amerika Lijn Festival
October 17: Nieuw-en Sint Joosland – Theater de Wegwijzer
October 18: Eindhoven – Cafe ‘t Rozenknopje
October 19: Maassluis – The Lock Keepers @ Grand Café de Waker
October 20: Spijkerboor – Café ’t Keerpunt
October 21: Utrecht – Ramblin’ Roots Festival, TivoliVredenburg, with BJ Baartmans
October 22: Aalsmeer – De Oude Veiling
01. Next Man in Line (4:05)
02. Digging Ditches (2:43)
03. Television Preacher (4:31)
04. A Puncher’s Chance (4:42)
05. Combine (4:26)
06. Homecoming Queen (3:54)
07. Starlight Tour (3:47)
08. Wasteland (3.39)
09. Pelican Bay (4:02)
10. Time to Let Go of Your Dreams (3:21)