Dylan Stewart: Scarecrow Sessions
The red dirt Scarecrow himself, Mr. Dylan Stewart has released a new album, aptly titled The Scarecrow Sessions.
The album was produced by Ryan Houck and Dylan Stewart. Mixed and mastered by Ryan Houck at the now defunct North Broadway Studio in Hydro, OK.
The players on it are:
Dylan Stewart: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Tremolo Electric Guitar, Harmonica
Bryon White: Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitar
Ryan Houck: Upright Bass, Baritone
Guitar, Dobro, Pedal Steel, Keys, Percussion
Sam Hochenauer: Banjo
Luke Tallon: Drums
Logan Webb: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Johnny "Up" Shadid: Pedal Steel
Tyler Paul: Drums, Percussion
Abbigale Dawn: Vocals
Album Photography and Graphic Design By Megan McCleary.
I had a little Q&A with Dylan about the album:
Q: What are your thoughts about this collection of songs as a whole? Was there anything, a feeling or message, you were trying to convey, establish or create with this album?
A: No. No message or ideal agenda. Just telling my truth. I have always documented my life and experience within that certain time and place in my life through my songwriting. It’s the only therapy and documentation of my time on this earth that I’ve ever known. It’s who I am within the measurement of time. My time.
Q: What do you want music fans to know about you, your music, or this album in particular?
A: That it’s honest..that I’m honest. My songs tell my truth..from my perception of my truth...it’s important that I do this always..even if only in my art. It’s important to me that people know I’m a non fictional writer..this I promise you.
Q: How long have you been working on these songs?
A: Wrote them all within July 2015 and February 2017. Most of them I finished writing with in an hour or maybe in a few cases it was two..at the idea or inspiration’s first conception.
Q: Any particularly interesting story you have that you want to share about any of the songs on this album? How they were inspired?
A: Honestly I don’t...I think these are the kind of songs better left unsaid as far as personal insight goes. An abstract sense of listening... left open to interpretation. I’ve written them in camouflage so to speak....so that the listener is able to apply them to their life and their struggle or what not..but still able to feel something happening at first listen..I’ve written these song in a way that, within the story that’s being told from my personal experience, you are forced to fill in the blanks with your own imagination and your own story. Maybe it’s not for everybody but it takes a certain degree of brain power and imaginational skill to get the most out of it.
Q: What’s your songwriting process?
A: Inspired...I draw inspiration from all corners of daily existence. I tend to soak things up like a sponge..maybe for months even. Every day....and then I get a chord progression that I feel is the right avenue, not so much for an idea but more so from a feeling, for what has been festering inside me, is usually when a song catches fire out of me. Approach is always subject to change...as most things in life are..
Q: What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned about yourself in the last year?
A: That I am resilient
Q: What comes next for you? What are your upcoming plans musically?
A: I’ve written so much. This new release are a collection of songs that are, in a way, already considered old songs to me. I’m going back into the Boohatch for my third album out of there. Me and Mac are gonna co-produce 10 tracks of mine. I’ve got 8 songs ready. So I’ve gotta write 2 morn between now and July or so. Next up is another album on the agenda I guess you could say. Probably a spring 2020 release.
And now for my review of this collection….
Scarecrowed opens up the album with a funky little instrumental intro, it has a great beat that makes you want to tap your foot and sway your head. It’s a nice combination with B. White’s buttery velvet voice mixed with Stewart’s grittiness. Abigail’s haunting vocals thrown in there gives it just the right mix of mysterious magic. There’s some great finger picking going on in there as well. The lyrics are loaded with dark metaphors and frightful imagery, as Stewart is prone to do. It weaves a quirky story, and ends on an eerie note.
1000 Churches: This song opens up with Stewart’s lament of not being able to go to Ringling anymore. They say you can always go home, but he seems to disagree with this popular sentiment here. The tune is full of upbeat instrumentals as the lyrics paint a sentimental and melancholy scene. Again the extra vocals by B. White add a certain balance and depth to this song.
Headless Man: This song is layered with dark and twisty instrumentals and even darker and twisted lyrics filled with macabre poetry. It offers so much in the way of storytelling and melodic magic. Stewart’s gritty and raw vocals gives it exactly what this song needed to pull it off. The guitar solo screaming through the end is a powerful jab in it as well.
By the Heart (co-written with Mike McClure): this song slows the vibe down a little, and lightens it up, but only slightly. While it may appear to be a love song, it’s also laced with that distinct woeful energy that Stewart is so good at. It’s a tragic love song, made even more hauntingly beautiful with the additional whisper like vocals, which seem to drip with emotion. This song gives me goosebumps, the way that it slows down and pulls you in, and then grabs you and takes off.
Miss Nobody (co-written with Mike McClure): “I don’t wanna miss nobody, I don’t want nobody missing me. Don’t wanna see you in the morning, I don’t want to keep you when you leave. I don’t wanna let nobody down, I don’t wanna set nobody free. I don’t wanna miss nobody, I don’t want nobody missing me”. Those lyrics pretty much sums up the spirit of this song, something I think everyone can relate to at one point or another in their life. The harmonica adds an alluring touch to this downhearted tune.
Black Daisies: This song speeds things back up and gets your toes tapping once again. It’s hurried pace and lyrics laced with clever metaphors and storytelling elements takes you on an interesting 4 minute ride through the mind, heart and memories of Stewart.
Night and Day (co-written with Mike McClure & Bryon White): I had the pleasure of being at the Boohatch into the wee hours of the morning when this song was being finished by Mike Mcclure, Bryon White and Stewart, and I really like this version of it. I swear this song haunts my dreams more often than not, it’s one that sinks deep down into you and stays there, trapped in the recesses of your mind. Abigail’s ethereal singing in the background brings an exquisitely frightening feeling to the whole thing.
Honesty (Co-written with Scott Evans): This stripped down song seems to offer some vulnerable truths, which is no doubt while the title is honesty. Stewart’s vocals are much softer in this song, losing his gritty edge for the feeling of this tune. “If you want to be free, be as honest as you can be.” Doesn’t get much truer than that.
Cherokee Purples: Stewart has a devious way with words, to eloquently describe an entire scene and set a mood. This song is full of that, with one of his favorite Guy Clark lyrics woven in there about homegrown tomatoes being one of two things money can’t buy. This song offers an entire volume of stories wrapped up in less than 5 minutes, and that’s a wordsmith skill that only few possess. The harmonica is a great touch of this tune.
Jeremiah: this song is almost whimsical in it’s instrumentals, giving it an eccentric and peculiar sound. The lyrics paint a picture and a story that fits right with that vibe. It’s a grooving tune and makes you want to move along with the beat, or even dance along like a gypsy under a full moon.
Major John Miles: This song falls right into line with the rest, a storytelling song that brings you on a journey through the life of another. It weaves and wraps around and gives you an escape from reality for an impressive 5 1/2 minutes.
So Long Anastasia (musical arrangement by Logan Webb): the album wraps up on this quirky and bizarre ride through a part of Stewart’s life that he hides in plain site, truths wrapped in madman poetry and eccentric diversions. Dripping with metaphors and hidden meanings, set to creepy instrumentals and eerie backing vocals that take you on a trip without the drugs. It’s a trip man. You just gotta experience it to understand.
Overall the album is well done and maintains a cohesive vibe throughout it’s entirety. You don’t have to take my word for it, go check it out for yourself, it’s available on all streaming platforms.