Rod Picott has a new album out, Paper Hearts and Broken Arrows, produced and mixed with cover photo by Neilson Hubbard and engineered by Dylan Alldredge.
Picott has loyal fans behind him, loyal from hearing decades of his sincere, classy songwriting. But I would like to announce to them all that this album is not “just another Rod Picott album.” Yes it has the same depth of talented songwriting you’ve come to expect, yes it still taps into the core of human angst, and yes it is full of grizzled and raw characters. But this time there is more of an open honest lyrical protagonist running through the vignettes. Perhaps it’s autobiographical, we may never know, but it definitely taps into a universal/personal, individual existential quest on more of an introspective level. You’ll find something new. You’ll find “sexy Rod.” You’ll find “loyal and joyful Rod” proclaiming his undying love, with jubilation. It’s not that these elements haven’t been there all along, it’s more that they come into sharp focus on this one.
The first song, “Lover,” is the quintessential sad Americana song, with the great opening line “I’ve been without love for so long.” This is for when you are deeply missing an old ex and are loaded down with deep angst, weariness and longing. There’s a request for, hopefully, a new lover to come find us — and I’d wager most of us can relate to that.
“Revenuer” comes on a little harder and a little darker and stronger, with a little more bitterness and desperation as the character outruns a debt collector and is desperate to get by. Electric guitar and slide in a sinister combination. “Here come the federals down from DC.” You’ve been breaking the law, you’re a moonshiner, you’re driving on the run, you’ve gotta outrun the danger. The song takes you there.
“Mona Lisa” finds the protagonist waiting under streetlights. You’ve got a streetlight of your own. And he confesses he’s afraid of getting hurt again. She’s not the Mona Lisa, he’s not the James Dean. We’re all flawed. But, there’s renewed hope here — are you waiting somewhere for me too?
Then, hold on to your hat. “Dirty T-Shirt” takes a decided detour into serious sexual energy. Here we find open power and it’s quite simply a real turn on. “Darlin’, you don’t need to brush your hair… I like working with my hands.” Fire. Desire. Make sure your glass of cold water is handy before listening to this one.
“Frankie Lee” is the character study of someone working in the dust bowl, stealing to get by, losing his land and “show me any road, it don’t matter where.”
Then: “His mama didn’t know when his birthday was” is the first crushing line of “Sonny Liston.” Catchy low end bass and lowdown rhythms, and it’s simply beautiful in expression. “Two big fists pumping like pistons, nobody punched like Sonny Liston,” is the dynamic refrain and the low end electric guitar is there to emphasize the punches.
“Through the Dark” (a co-write with Slaid Cleaves) is a smashingly beautiful song. The drums seem to punctuate in a big way on this one and the song is the true love song. I believe those are toms beating low and echoey. It’s exuberant, expressive, joyful and celebratory.
Then we turn back to loss again with “Valentine’s Day” and the fantastic line “you used to hold me, but I held you back.” Here’s an honest, real break-up song regrets.
“Mark of Your Father” is a song about a young boy, wars, being your mother’s son, a dusty Gibson behind an attic door, and finding a connection with your father after all, in trying to pick up the dream he left behind. Hushed and solo acoustic with gentle harmony vocals. “Make Your Own Light” (another Slaid Cleaves co-write) again shines with minimalist recording embellishments and the song peels back the husks to reveal the kernels — “you won’t find it in a bottle,” “you can’t find it in a lover,” “try again to make your own light.”
Musicians on the album are Rod Picott on acoustic guitar and vocals; Lex Price on bass and tenor guitars; Juan Solodzano on pedal steel slide and guitars; Evan Hutchings on drums; Neilson Hubbard on percussion, vocal harmonies; and piano. It was mastered Alex McCollough at True East Mastering.
Enjoy our earlier interviews with Rod here: Interview: Rod Picott on Telling the Truth, Shaming the Devil, Family, and Writing
All songs by Rod Picott
*Except “Frankie Lee” by Picott and Jen Tortorici
“Through the Dark” by Picott and Slaid Cleaves
“To Make Your Own Light” by Picott and Slaid Cleaves
“Washington County” by Picott and Mark Erreli
- Lover (4:21)
- Revenuer (3:04)
- Mona Lisa (3:08)
- Dirty T-Shirt (3:10)
- Fankie Lee (3:04)
- Sonny Liston (3:48)
- Through The Dark (3:55)
- Valentine’s Day (3:17)
- Washington County (3:36)
- Lost In The South (3:50)
- Mark of Your Father (3:50)
- Make Your Own Light (3:54)