The Scooches – Lift You Up
NYC-based 6-piece band The Scooches are led by guitarist/vocalist Betina Hershey’s silky-smooth vocals that despite their base is a world-class lineup of musicians from the Big Apple, Suriname, Sapelo Island (Georgia), Mexico & the Caribbean. It certainly does unravel from its first tune “Lift You Up,” with a warm island reggae-like melodic drive with Hershey’s tight folky tone. It’s as if Joni Mitchell were backed by the Wailers or the Maytals. It’s actually a great idea. It’s not so much a contrast as a blending of cultures.
The band explores the current social climate but not in a heavy-handed manner. Much of the music would also appeal to children. There’s a little of that sing-along with Pete Seeger’s attitude in the melodies. This type of conglomeration is in its truest rootsy form. The balance between female smooth vocals & some gritty male additives is a nice touch. The rapping is kept to a minimum but where it does appear it works quite well & respectable.
There’s a big band representation on this CD & each musician contributes with skill & finesse throughout the 12-cut Lift You Up (Drops July 14–On the Bol Records) was produced & arranged by Nick Russo & recorded in New York City. The percussive & melodic “Let’s Grow Our Roots Deep & True,” has some fiery fiddle & banjo & the vocals just infest others with a need to sing. Good, exciting music.
“Open a Door,” & “Leavin’ is a little more middle-of-the-road/easy listening sung with the silky masterful style of Susan Osborne (Paul Winter’s Consort “Lay Down Your Burden” from the LP “Common Ground”). Hershey does a fine job & the acoustic guitar picking is almost, but not quite, samba style. It works quite well with its clarity & expertise.
A bit more down in the mud is “I Broke the Egg,” a saloon-style humor-filled fiddle-driven tune that sheds new light on Hershey’s vocalizing. “What’s Meant To Last Will Last,” has a Manhattan Transfer-Squirrel Nut Zippers style – quite entertaining, great tapping too & vintage vocalizing Bette Midler & Bernadette Peters would smile at.
Highlights – “Lift You Up,” “Let’s Grow Our Roots Deep & True,” “Open a Door,” “I Broke the Egg,” the excellent “Leavin’,” “What’s Meant To Last Will Last” & “Spread Your Wings & Fly.”
Musicians – Nick Russo (banjo/Nickaru/guitars/resonator/slide/banjos/piano/organ/electric bass), Harvey Wirht (drums/percussion), Ahmad T. Johnson (drums), Art Hirahara (organ), Miles Griffith & Angela Workman (voices), Dr. David Pleasant (tambourine/drums/percussion/voice/Gullah Geechee stomping), Aditya Phatak (tabla), Hilliard Greene & Jennifer Vincent (double basses), Kenny Kosek (fiddle), Michela Marino Lerman (tap), Len Monachello (vocal bass line/jaw harp), Mamadou Ba (electric bass), R.I.A. Salaam (spoken word) & Russell Hall (electric bass).
Color image courtesy of the band’s website. 12-page stitched color lyric insert included.
Samples of music on the 48-minute CD @ Bandcamp + https://thescooches.com/