Artist: Boz Scaggs
Album: A Fool To Care
Release Date: 03/31/2015
[F]rom the moment William Royce Scaggs proclaims, “I got the honey,” on his new release, A Fool To Care, you know the entire album is sure to be musically coated in the sweet, sticky stuff.
As always, the honey pours directly from Scaggs’ distinctive voice, which conveys Chicago blues one minute and Latin passion the next. Arriving on the near-heels of Scaggs’ Stax-worthy Memphis, A Fool To Care provides listeners with an ever-so-slightly peppier Scaggs. On this release, Scaggs comes full circle, back to his discography’s beginnings, creating an album that’s on par with his major label blues efforts, Boz Scaggs and Boz Scaggs & Band included.
Opening track “Rich Woman” showcases a sly, nearly devilish Scaggs as the tune seems caked in rich Mississippi mud. “I’m a Fool to Care” and “High Blood Pressure” pack a Fats Domino-esque wallop as Scaggs opts to channel the spirit of the New Orleans dynamo rather than recycle his own Silk Degrees period of flamboyance.
The album also gives us a spicy pair of duets—one gritty, the other bittersweet. “Hell to Pay” features fellow guitar slinger Bonnie Raitt trading licks and sass with Scaggs while “Whispering Pines,” featuring Lucinda Williams’ guttural vocals, could pass for a Tom Waits tune.
But Scaggs still knows how to put some bounce and boogie into his material, culminating in “Full of Fire.” On first listen, the track passes for “Glamour Profession” by Steely Dan, but as you delve further, it easily recalls Scaggs’ own Down Two Then Left, from 1977.
While Scaggs may be a fool to care after 50 years in the business, you’d be a fool to overlook this gem.
With A Fool To Care out today, Scaggs recently took time to speak with Elmore about the new album, his future plans and the pending 40th anniversary of his landmark Silk Degrees album.
Elmore: Congratulations on the new album. It seems like you’re back to releasing albums with the same fervor you had back in the 1970s. Where is this burst of creative energy coming from?
Boz Scaggs: I’m just working more in general. I’m touring more and enjoying it more. It’s just there every day now. I guess there was a time when I wasn’t touring much and it wasn’t so much on my mind. But one of the things I guess I would have to point to immediately is my association with Steve Jordan, my musical cohort and producer. We’re having a really good time doing this. And I think I’ve found a great musical partnership here. I think I mentioned to someone recently that I feel like this is perhaps part of a trilogy; that we’ve started something with the Memphis album and with this current album, which we made in Nashville, that I think could very well take another step and, in fact, I’m sort of looking very seriously at the next chance that we can get together on something, and thinking about where that might take place.
EM: What genre, sound or style do you think “Album Three” would encompass in the trilogy concept?
BS: I can see a couple of possibilities. One would be to go to New Orleans and go right into the heart of it all. Or another would be to Chicago and…maybe go into a little more progressive [realm], even into a little bit of a jazzy thing with some horns and some arrangements.
EM: Your previous efforts, like But Beautiful and Speak Low, were much more jazz inclined; was there a specific moment or impetus that made you decide to bring your music back to the worlds of soul and R&B?
BS: Well I always thought of the But Beautiful album and the other ones as just sort of sidelines, and by that I don’t mean any less important but just exploring another area for me. My main interest is always going to be in music that came out of New Orleans, as it migrated to Memphis and to Nashville and to Chicago. It’s always going to be American blues/roots music. It has its roots in gospel, blues and jazz.
EM: What are your hopes for this new album now that it’s officially released?
BS: I’d like to see doors opened. I’d like to see communication opened. I discovered a new—for me—artist, Richard Hawley, a British writer and singer. He wrote a song I did on the album, “There’s a Storm a Comin’”—that opened up a world to me. I love his work. I would hope that that song connects with my audience and sort of opens their perspectives about music and me and about Richard Hawley. I recorded a couple of songs written by a very good friend of mine, a writer in San Francisco; I did two Latin-tinged songs, one called “Last Tango on 16th Street” and another one called “I Want to See You.” I’d like to open the door for people to see more of his music.
My music is all over the place. If you look at the range of things on this record, it represents a partial range of music that I’m interested in. But it’s one of the things I enjoy about all of these different genres of music; it’s something that I like about some of my favorite artists: that it just opens other musical doors, other musical avenues, not only avenues that I can perform in or record in, but it just opens all of our ears and our musical experience. So that’s the most I could ever hope for with any of the work I do. It broadens my audience; it broadens my audiences’ perspective about me and about music in general. Just to open the doors and let more beautiful music in.
EM: We’re fast approaching the 40th anniversary of your behemoth breakout album, Silk Degrees. Do you have anything in the works by way of reissues, concert tours, et cetera?
BS: I don’t have anything in particular planned, but there have been thoughts over the years as to how we might commemorate or celebrate this. I don’t have anything specific. I have an ongoing friendship with David Paich (Toto), who was the most important collaborator to me in that record in that we wrote together and he played the keyboards and did all the arrangements. David and I are always looking for things to do together and it could be a collaboration or something could come together in that way. That would be the best thing for me, the thing I would most enjoy.
EM: Any additional thoughts?
BS: I feel really lucky to be doing what I’m doing, to be able to do what I want to do. I feel free now to go in any direction I want. I just feel very fortunate to be very happy with my life and my work.
– Ira Kantor