Over the years, Scot Sax has produced a wide range of exceptional music. From the ultra-polished pop perfection of his work as the front man for Wanderlust and Feel to his more homespun recordings as Bachelor Number One and as a solo artist, Scot has always brought equal parts compassion and energy to his music. His 2018 album Drawing from Memory was certainly a case in point. A collection of original songs evoking the best of 70s AM radio gold, the album found Scot echoing much of the music that likely inspired his lifelong appreciation of the well-wrought tune. With this year’s Playback is a Bitch, Scot is digging deeper, taking risks, and coming up with a blend of tracks that feels at once familiar and artistically satisfying.
The new album finds Scot getting a bit funky (not for the first time in his life) but also a bit trippy and dreamy at the same time. The dreamlike quality takes hold immediately with the first track, “Roller Wakes Up,” a thirty-six-second intro that sounds like the feeling of gradually returning to the waking world from a deep sleep. It transitions naturally into the album’s title track, which is where the funk starts to kick in — but not all at once. “Playback is Bitch” actually sounds like a throwback to the Monkees for the first few bars before a short blues riff introduces a bass-heavy dance groove. The rest of the album follows suit, drifting sweetly and soulfully between groovy beats and trippy, dreamy sojourns, like the instrumental “How Come There’s No Wind In Your Kite,” which gives way to the percolating, trumpet-laden “Fell in Love with Myself Again,” a true highlight of the album.
Not surprisingly, songwriting is at the heart of the album, both in terms of craft and as an over-arching theme. When Scot sings in “Two Sweethearts” that he has “exactly two minutes” to get out his thoughts, it’s easy to imagine he’s describing the job of tunesmiths everywhere, the unrelenting compulsion to distill the essence of a heart full of conflicting, confusing, overwhelming emotions down to the parameters of a radio-friendly pop song. It isn’t easy, and it also isn’t a science. As the penultimate track, a spoken-word recording titled “Roller’s Monologue,” makes clear, it’s a work of heart. Yes, there are people in the world who can boil songwriting down to a formula and treat it like a business. But as songwriters like Scot Sax show us time and time again, there are also people who are “out there singing to the clouds” (as the track’s narrator insists), artists driven by their sheer love of music. In the end, that’s exactly what Playback is a Bitch is all about.
PS: Playback is a Bitch is actually soundtrack! For more info, visit the film’s FB page: Playback is a Bitch.