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Scott Hisey - Half Empty & Seein' Double
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
9/22/09

Let me show my hand early. I’m a big Scott Hisey fan. It started in 2002 with the release of his debut album What Will The Good Times Do. My fan following continued with his stellar follow-up album, the industry underrated Dead Man Walkin’. At the time, while writing for another publication, I placed that album in my Top 10 for 2005. I remember hearing the voice, a rich and primed-for-heartache tone, and I keenly recall his writing and the song choices. This guy is pure country was my thought at the time. Now with his third album, Half Empty & Seeing Double, I have no reason to shift.

But I’m still wondering why this Ohio native has taken so long to break through to wider appeal.

As we know, the path to fame and recognition, especially in country music, is a hard road to hoe. Hisey, who’s had independent success with his first two albums – believed to have collectively sold over 100,000 copies – is still grinding away at his chosen passion, namely solid traditional sounding county. But, and for reasons lost on me, because he is talented and as good as anything doing the rounds, he is still waiting in the wings.

That deserves to change.

Hisey has packed this latest release with fare sure to please the most ardent country fan. Moving to home base Nashville in 2006 to further his possibilities, Hisey is primed, after the fairs, lounges and a host of celebrated openings for bigger acts, to claim his own place in the neon.

This album may just do it.

Firing into overdrive from the opening cut, the energetic “Live Myself to Death” Hisey highlights a country delivery that can rock, all with an edge best described as soulful. On the rockier cuts, “Live Myself…”, the ode to fast-living “Budweiser Wagon”, “Last Call For A Southern Drawl” and the “You Brought My Wife To Life”, Hisey has no lack of grits or confidence. But while his style will suit those with a need to scuff their boots on a Saturday night sawdust floor, it’s in the calmer, mellow and reflective offerings he claims his place.

I mean this guy can sing. Listen out for the ballads, the pain, the hurt, the disappointment and the shattered pieces of the examined life all come with a voice made for country heartache.

I Don’t Wanna Be Me Anymore” has this daytime demo singer reaching deep, telling of long sheltered emotions. When he sings “I do not like the man I’ve become, a self-made desperado quick to turn and run…when you’re runnin’ for the devil he’s the one who’s keepin’ score…I don’t wanna live each day like I’m gonna die…it’s so hard for me to face the truth I’ve been lookin’ for…” you have a sense of a singer with more, much more than many of today’s hat and buckle wannabes cutting music.

That song, along with the moody “Snowbound” – a co-write with long-term collaborator Ron Vincent – sits well against the liner and album photos of Hisey sitting alone and looking lonely in a bar with his thoughts and memories. Again, when Hisey sings his emotive lyrics, cased in a voice inspired by his favorites – Haggard, Jones, Gosdin and Williams – you sense this is a guy who lives what he feels and sings what he knows.

For all my praise for this album, the defining song comes with the last track. It’s in the self-penned “Like My Memories Know Him” that Hisey shines bright. Hisey aches his way through the song. His voice comes wrapped in hurt. Lost and distanced dads everywhere know the story. The lyrics tell of a son, the child of a mother who denies the presence of his father, Dad’s only consultation is a wallet photo and the heartfelt memories of a young voice seldom heard. Not only is the tune well crafted, well played by the band (liner absences make naming them impossible), but Hisey’s take and feel make the song a standout.

The album is out now on Luculent Music.

 

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