Scott grew up, he says in one of his songs, "on the Indiana side of Chicago," seeing Lake Michigan in the light of a "steel-mill sunset." He went on to study literature at Tufts University. His output seems to vacillate interestingly between songs with a populist touch and those with folkier, more interior, more involved texts. Each album he makes (there are now four) has its own theme and unifying flavor; his latest, Theater of the Unheard, collects songs written more than a decade ago, many of them blue-collar anthems written under the strong influence of Bruce Springsteen. Like many productions of young songwriters, they've got a bit too many ideas packed into too little time, but nobody else is doing this kind of song these days. They're well worth hearing when Scott brings together the various strands of his output in his local debut at the Ark on Wednesday, October 8.
The Dixie Chicks recently pronounced Scott one of the great writers of our time, and he's equally pervasive and influential as a performer. A soulful vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist who has mastered such things as the bouzouki in addition to the usual country strings, he has appeared on dozens of Nashville albums as a sideman. Scott produces his own recordings and has a knack for forging arrangements that match his words. The songs on Theater of the Unheard get big rock sounds, while the delicate "Mahala," a love song from the very personal Family Tree, floats over a quiet pair of African percussion instruments.