You can hear traces of folk/Americana legends like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark weaved throughout the sophomore effort from Shay Martin Lovette, but just as obvious is the influence of his native North Carolina. Written primarily from a remote creek side cabin in the Appalachian Mountains, there is a stillness and serenity that knit through the 12 tracks that make up Scatter & Gather, regardless of the characters he’s singing about.
Lyrically, Lovette vacillates between writing strong, clear characters that populate his songs and mixing in his own personal lived experiences. The first two tracks are solid examples, “Fierce And Delicate Things” is a seemingly autobiographical song about looking back on the innocence of his youth, while “For Rose Marie” is focused on a free spirited, but troubled woman making her way through life. Elsewhere, the charming “Parkway Bound” – a nod to the Blue Ridge Parkway – is a mellow placid ode to the beauty of the region that pairs nicely with James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” to sell the world on the charm of the Tarheel state. But the two stand out tracks on the record also happen to be two of the most disparate. The moody, piano heavy “Further From My Demons” focuses on the distraught narrator who ultimately finds salvation in real love, while the upbeat “Something Wild (All the Way Through)” is slathered in organ and another song about looking back on your youth and growing up.
The record was produced by Joseph Terrell, of Chapel Hill’s bluegrass/folk band Mipso, so it seems fitting that Lovette squeezed in the bluegrassy instrumental “Sourwood Honey Rag,” (rather appropriate as Lovette is also a part time beekeeper). Although it’s coming only two years after his debut full length, Scatter & Gather is a solid, if at times maudlin, follow up that shows Lovette’s growth as a songwriter has been significant in such a short time.
Photo by Julianna Liegal