Fifteen years after quitting his day job to pursue a full time life in music, Rod Picott decided it was time to reflect on where he was, how he’d got there and what had happened along the way. Not that he hasn’t taken the autobiographical route before, his last album, Hang Your Hopes On A Crooked Nail, was, after all heavily informed by the end of his relationship with fiddler Amanda Shires who went on to marry Jason Isbell. But the reflective, self-examining collection of songs on Fortune spans a far wider arc.
That said, opening with acoustic strum and harmonica, it begins with the end and possible rekindling of a relationship in Maybe That’s What It Takes, although this time for giving too much rather than not enough as he sings “You wore a crown I gave you, but you never liked how it fit. But I kneeled at your dress so you put up with it.” It’s about accepting one another on equal terms and how, after a “good hard break”, things can grow back stronger and longer.
Picott’s often been likened to Steve Earle and the comparison rears its head again on the country chugging Elbow Grease, another plea for one more chance, but also a defiant ‘my way’ number as he sings about giving the middle finger to the hurt inside, surviving he scars and burns of love and how “a wreck like me” gets by on “a lucky charm and elbow grease.”
If there were any question about how his heart’s gone 12 rounds with love and not bit the canvas, they’re put to rest on the drum sticks percussion, swampy blues (guitar courtesy Will Kimbrough) Until I’m Not Satisified where his woman’s heart may be as “crooked as a dog’s hind leg” and people may piss on his leg and tell him it’s rain, but he still declares “I’m a dog who found a bone and I’m gonna work it hard.” Likewise, on the Dylanesque twangy jangle of I Was Not Worth Your Love he talks of how his lover kept count of all his failures, wryly suggesting that they broke up because “I wasn’t wrecked enough for you” as their positions now seem to have become reversed.
As with the best writers, Picott can universalise personal experience, proving the point in magnificent style with the sparse, world-weary and lyrically poetic This World Is A Dangerous Place which sports the terrific image of how “outside the rain was falling like the rain might never get to fall again.”
In similar manner, Jeremiah steps outside of his own life entirely as, to just acoustic guitar accompaniment, he adopts a woman’s persona to tell the poignant story of a soldier’s death “in a desert with a name I can’t pronounce” and the impact on those left behind. The approach extends to the no less stripped back Drunken Barber’s Hand, a meditation on the highs, the hurts and the sheer chaotic nature of life while lurching junkyard blues Uncle John spins a gothic tale about the titular character living in the woods with his chainsaw after a family feud.
Personal reflections of relationships resurface on the minimally accompanied I’m On Your Side and the fingerpicked Alicia, and, while both seems to be about loss, they also celebrate the salvation, the memories and the songs they left behind.
The album ends with two introspective songs of acceptance. The campfire folk of Secret Heart talks of how time steals and sometimes you just have to let go, while, his voice throaty with dust, Spare Change returns to the theme of album title, of how you have to deal with what you’re given and make the most of what you have as he sings ‘Rain falls when God spills his cup. We’re down here forever cleaning it up.’ For Picott, it’s how you hold the mop that is the measure of your life.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released January 15th, 2016
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Jan 12 Green Note London
Jan 15 Paradiso – Amsterdam Netherlands
Jan 16 de Slotplaats – Bakkeveen Netherlands
Jan 17 Tangelder Presenteert – Nijmegan Netherlands
Jan 20 De Harmonie – Edam Netherlands
Jan 21 Roots On The Road/ Vanslag – Borger Netherlands
Jan 22 The Live Room – Saltaire
Jan 23 Cluny 2 – Newcastle
Jan 25 Celtic Connections Festival – Glasgow
Jan 27 The Forge@ The Anvil – Basingstoke
Jan 28 Alma Theatre – Bristol
Jan 29 Tingewick Village Hall – Buckingham
Jan 30 Alford Village Hall – Lichfield
Jan 31 The Maze – Nottingham
Feb 1 The Greys – Brighton
Feb 2 Kitchen Garden Cafe – Birmingham
Feb 3 Grateful Fred’s @ The Atkinson – Southport
Feb 4 The Cinnamon Club – Altrincham
Feb 5 The Ropewalk – Barton on Humber
Feb 6 Town Hall – Kirton in Lindsey
Feb 7 Greystones – Sheffield
Photo Credit: Stacie Huckeba