Richard Scott – Keeper of my Heart
The best performers and songwriters resist labels. The anagram of musical influences informing their work creates a greater whole defying neat and tidy categorization. Richard Scott’s latest single “Keeper of My Heart” will sound familiar in some ways and astonishingly fresh in others. Its unique character is the by-product of creative vision that never restrains itself to working in one mode to the exclusion of others. Scott’s skills have carried his live and recording career since the late 1970’s and have garnered awards and nominations all the way through the early 21st century. He was forced by family circumstances to take some years away from his profession, but has returned with tremendous inspiration and energy on this new effort. “Keeper of My Heart” will strike a familiar note with listeners will still showing off the same individualistic creativity that sets him apart from so many other performers and writers.
There are two different takes on this song included with the release. The first version runs a little over three minutes in length while the second, cast in a doo-wop mode, runs a full minute shorter. The longer cut is a mini blues masterpiece with brief flares of biting guitar and some inspired piano playing. It has a hard-hitting side lacking in the doo-wop version but never overplays its hand and the changes come on listeners with such seamlessness that listeners will likely be smiling early on and never stop. It’s a highly enjoyable performance. The classic slightly behind the beat feel in the first version receives a much more pronounced step in the doo-wop version and, despite the comparatively hurried nature, Scott’s vocal rises to the challenge and delivers the lyrics with ever more dramatic emphasis than before. The addition of brass in that doo-wop version, dispensing with the guitar altogether, gives it a much different texture from the bluesy take that will linger for some time in the listener’s mind.
The lyrics certainly won’t be confused with high-flown poetic reflections, but Scott’s songwriting has a literate edge and expresses time-tested emotions with idiosyncratic style that will, nevertheless, immediately connect with listeners. The words lose none of their style and emotional punch in the doo wop version – this is the mark of a superior songwriter and singer alike. The vocal weaves such magic with the words that it elevates the song as a whole. Everything pieces together quite sensibly and there’s a wonderful unity to both performances that is sure to get these songs noticed individually and collectively. Richard Scott’s command of various musical styles makes each new release a mini-adventure and this song is no exception. “Keeper of My Heart” doesn’t explore new or unusual themes, but what it does is connect with its audience through authenticity and unpretentiousness that remains the hallmark of the best performers in popular music. We should be grateful that composers and singers like Richard Scott have returned to the front lines of popular music in these perilous times and we can only hope Providence sends us more of the same to help clear the scene of subpar talents and pandering releases. This is a real winner.