Scott Clay – ‘Jade’

Possessing a gripping sound that spans from heartfelt folk ballads to rousing Americana escalations, Jade is the riveting sixth studio album from Nashville-based singer/songwriter Scott Clay. Impressing with his studio output since 2016’s debut album Colorful Thing, Clay continues to enamor with Jade, a testament to his knack for emotively climactic songcraft.

Opening the album, “One for the Road” conjures a stirring appeal with soulful organs and twangy guitar complements. Initial vocals depict a radio-playing contemplation, swelling into an impassioned yearning as the organ hits with brighter effervescence. “That’s where you’ll find me,” the vocals conclude this masterful sequence, firmly showcasing what to anticipate from Clay’s productions — namely, satiating build-ups that blend folk, Americana, and rock sentiments into a cohesive enjoyment. Organ-driven intrigue continue to stir on the subsequent “Wildfire,” punctuated by tender guitar work that bridges the chorus with the verses.

“Firefly Lullaby” is an especially impactful standout, taking inspiration from the small town of Natchez, Mississippi, where Clay has toured and owns property. “Heart is as strong as Tennessee whiskey, her soul is as deep as Mississippi mud,” the consuming vocals open amidst stately acoustics, as the vocals echo with resonating entrancement into a moon-reaching soaring. “Dream with me tonight,” Clay continues, stirring in a portrayal of a love that induces one to drift away, into a comforting unity. Wordless vocal playfulness and chirpy instrumentation add illuminated qualities at mid-point, further bolstering this fantastic piece of songwriting.

The album’s title track plays with a heartrending pull, yearning that “paradise seems out of sight,” as one introspects from a dusty hotel setting. A haunting vocal backing complements the “nowhere left to go,” commiserations — sending chills as a passionate vocal addition converges in the second half amidst the organs; much like other successes “Walk You Home” and “Burning for You,” “Jade” excels in a sound that traverses from emotive balladry into an invigorating, from-the-core expanse.

“The Painter” is another display in spine-tingling vocal shifts, with a comforting vocal refrain — “take it easy on yourself,” — aligning beautifully as delicate acoustics and reflective piano adorn alongside. Triumphant guitar work develops into a more rhythmically inclined rise, again achieving a rewarding build-up. Album finale “El Tiempo Dirá (Time Will Tell)” also shines in its structural growth, culminating in a subtle synth arpeggio and electric guitar soaring alongside the lovely vocal duet, following a folk-ready initial arsenal. With a memorably emotional vein of Americana songwriting, Jade is another fantastic addition to Scott Clay’s discography.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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