Scott Wiggins Band - Burn
An addictive guitar riff bookends "Was It Worth It," the first song on Scott Wiggins Band's Burn, and addictive may be a good way to describe the songs the band presents to listeners on this record. They didn't blow me away the first time I listened, but they kept circulating around inside my head until I gave them another listen. And another. And another. While I'm still not blown away, I do seem to be, well, addicted.
I've seen SWB live several times (although, I admit, not very recently) and always thought the most compelling thing about the show was the energetic lead guitar of Austin Gilliam. But as I listened to Burn, which is enjoyable end to end, I felt more drawn to the ballads.
Wiggins seems to enjoy moving between rockers and ballads, so he includes five of each on the record. While Scott handles the rockers well, his voice seems more suited to the slow stuff, and there's something inside me that wants Gilliam, who provides superb background vocals, to step up to the front mic on the faster songs.
"Lonely Is Holding Me," is such a corny song, that I couldn't help but dig it. After all, true emotion is the corniest part of life. When Scott sings the chorus,
'Cause lonely is holding me just like you used to.
I can hardly breathe, I can hardly move.
Baby, what am I supposed to do, when lonely is holding me?
I believe him. This guy is definitely in pain, and I can feel it. So much so, that I want to reach through the speakers and slap him around a little bit, try to get him to snap out of it, let him know that no woman is worth that kind of misery. This song really reminds of the songs of Big Blue Hearts and Chris Isaak, which remind me of the songs of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, so Wiggins is writing and singing himself into good company.
In fact, I think Scott's adept handling of the slower songs causes the song that some people have told me is their favorite on the record, "Addictions," to fall flat. It's a gritty tune with what I consider the most interesting lyrics and rhyme scheme on the record, but after I've listened to Scott so convincingly pining away for lost love, I can't feel him when he's trying to drive home a rockin' point about how we all have these not-necessarily-positive forces that drive our lives. This is not to say the song is insincere – I think it is emotionally spot on – but I'm just not buying the delivery of the message.
There is, however, plenty on this record to like, and the last song is the gun-to-my-head best tune on it, the country-bluesy "Start Tonight," which features some classy instrumentation and has Wiggins sporting a mild falsetto.
Keith Davis produced Burn, and it sounds as good as I've come to expect from the man who produced several of my favorite records of 2007. The instrumentation is interesting and not overdone and the artist, not the producer, remains the star. (Note to young bands out there looking for a producer: Get him while he's still affordable!) I also noticed that it's a tribute to Austin Gilliam's guitar skills that Davis, himself a master guitarist, does not break out his Telecaster anywhere on the album.
Burn is a pretty good record from a pretty good band, but it suffers from its dichotomous nature. When I ripped the CD to my computer and re-arranged the songs into two five-song EPs, however, one with the rockers and one with the ballads, the resulting sets of songs each felt more cohesive. So pick up your copy of Burn, do a little digital surgery, and put on the rockin' EP when you want to let out some frustrations and the ballad EP when you want to get in touch with your softer side. The Scott Wiggins Band can give you what you want to hear. You may even find yourself addicted.
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