Hilary Scott is an American vocalist backed by her band, The New County Line. The singer borders on folk, country, Western, Americana, roots, and Christian music with an instrumental repertoire consisting of B3 organ, acoustic and electric guitar, drum-kit, tambourine, and piano. The eighth studio album, Still, is a five-song masterpiece of poetic and ear-friendly music.
“Untitled (So Long)” begins with a slow, moving piano solo and folksy vocals by Hilary Scott. The music is relatively stagnant with little guitar and B3 organ accompaniment throughout. Hilary’s vocals hit a few higher notes in places, but most of the vocals are relatively weak. Importantly, the music is more roots/folk-centered over pop. At any rate, it is a solid effort with average vocals and instrumental accompaniment.
“Labor of Love” begins with the sound of an anvil being dropped along with a peppy percussion beat and piano. Hilary’s Americana and country-style vocals add another dimension to the music. In fact, Hilary’s vocals are stronger and more varied on this song rather than the first track. The acoustic guitar and B3 organ allows the music to breathe a bit. The instrumentation is more complex than the previous track and it fits an Americana pop style with ease. Nothing is problematic with “Labor of Love.”
“Fighting Odds (Take What You Get)” opens with an acoustic guitar and Hilary’s heartfelt vocals without any other accompaniment. Then, drum-kit percussion kicks in and takes the song to new heights. For instance, the guitar note drawl and B3 organ chords create heavenly magic from the roots of Americana. Notably, the music is not country, pop, or rock. In short, it is slightly unexplainable, but tends to mimic the roots/folk-continuum with a mix of full-on percussion, extended vocals, and quieter guitar and B3 segments throughout.
“Hallelujah” starts with a sweeping piano melody and Hilary’s folksy vocals. The guitar strings add a touch of twang in this uplifting and spiritual song. The overall melody is relatively slow, but the percussion, guitar, and piano add a nice mix. However, the vocals tend to repeat the song title too much. Hilary’s Sarah MacLachlan-esque vocals are spot-on throughout. Nevertheless, Hilary knows how to create emotive melodies and soft vocals that send chills down any spine (in a good way).
“Still” opens with Hilary’s mature vocals and the sound of an electric guitar with a few notes wringing with passion. The piano adds a touch of emotion, along with a tambourine. Hilary’s unintelligible vocals float along with the instrumentation mid-way through the song. However, Hilary returns to intelligible vocals throughout. Again, Sarah MacLachlan’s influence on piano and vocals might be the strongest, contemporary comparison. The folksy vocals provide a spiritual message of love for God and relationships. The latter half of the song includes an echoing, electric guitar solo that is not hard rock. Though, the electric guitar solo is the most rock-focused track on the entire album. The song ends as beautiful as it begins with Hilary’s sweet and soft vocals.
Hilary Scott’s new album is a refreshing addition to the world of folk, roots, and Americana music. The music mixes relatively simple rhythms and melodies that ultimately summon the human spirit to listen. Hilary’s vocals are reminiscent of Sarah MacLachlan, which do not hurt in any way. The only trivial objection surrounds lyrical repetition on “Hallelujah,” too much melodic uniformity on “Untitled (So Long).” Overall, Still is ‘still’ a good effort.
Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)