Scott Yoder Takes Indie and Alt-Folk To A Pleasurable High On Solo Debut
By Brody Coronelli - Link: Twitter
Scott Yoder has been operating behind the scene for the better part of sixteen years. As the former lead singer and guitarist for the bright, Seattle-based indie-rock band The Pharmacy who split up back in 2014, Yoder felt the urge to begin making music under his own moniker in early 2015. During a press release, Yoder stated, “I don’t remember when it started but at some venue, some airport, some recording studio I started to lie to myself. It was subtle, it was sad and it was unavoidable. The sort of commodifying ethic that’s usually left unspoken in the music business was taking its toll on me,” on the foretelling of The Pharmacy’s end.
After the extinguishing of The Pharmacy, it was only sensible for Yoder to begin releasing music on his own terms. The first official offering is Looking Back In Blue: an introspective and spanning singer-songwriter effort rendering Yoder in a new light that never really found its way into the collective sound of The Pharmacy. Recorded in Portland, Oregon, and featuring Yoder as the primary musician and songwriter, Looking Back In Blue is a solo endeavor that succeeds in more ways than one.
Taking notes from sweet roots and alternative folk- a soft and subtle and wide-reaching full-band approach- with a confessional aspect that marks a singer-songwriter, Looking Back In Blue manages to stay interesting throughout while also revealing a sentimental, more thoughtful approach to songwriting that’s just vague enough for listeners to connect to- arguably the two most important qualities of a singer-songwriter record. Many of these songs feature the lush and sweeter notes of an orchestral accompaniment, prominent keyboard or organ fills, subtle yet driving lead guitar, and the addition of bluegrass elements like a pedal steel guitar and harmonica. These instrumental forces all combine forces to make this anything but your average, acoustic guitar-haunted singer/songwriter album.
On the lead single “Silver Boy,” Yoder preludes the track with lush and drawn out orchestration, only to let it open up gradually with the addition of keyboards, organ fills, and a slow-burning lead guitar. The vocals are nostalgic, seeming to mourn either someone from the past or a former personality that no longer remains. The song opens up like a rosebud, revealing more and more as it progresses. While this song takes its time to reveal itself, songs like “Where Does She Go” kick right in from the start. Boasting a Dylan-esque delivery laden with an assertive acoustic lead, distant percussion, a sugary lap steel, and simple, folk-like lyricism that touches on the surface of romance, the song is a short-and-sweet romantic lament in the finest degree. Yoder also channels Dylan on the title track “Looking Back In Blue,” one of the record’s quietest and most laid-back additions. A blossoming and sentimental acoustic track, the song slowly climbs towards a full-band resolution that would do the finer notes of Blood On The Tracks justice.
Through the track “Songs For Strangers,” Yoder addresses his career as a musician, reducing it to its most simple interpretation: singing songs for strangers. Professing his musical strifes over a rich and classically-tasteful piano lead, the song renders Yoder in a peacefully confessional tone reminiscent of a lullaby. The track is self-aware and poignant, shining through as an absolute essential.
While the themes present on Looking Back In Blue are nothing new in their own right, Yoder’s unique alternative-folk delivery and invigorating instrumental catalog render Yoder’s self-titled debut something to be noted. Considering that Yoder himself described the album as “[Not containing] happy songs, but they make sense to me and they are my conscious attempt to tell the truth to myself,” Looking Back In Blue succeeds on that level and above. Fans of The Pharmacy are sure to indulge, as well as alt-folk enthusiasts looking for something new to chew on.
Listen to: “Silver Boy”, “Songs To Strangers”, “Paint Her Picture”
Looking Back In Blue is out March 25 via Annibale Records.