When I set out to write about Bill Scorzari’s debut album, Just the Same, I didn’t know that it would be such a difficult album to discuss.  I mean, it is as authentic as Americana-Folk-Country comes, but it has rendered me speechless.  I am without speech.  So I’ve procrastinated; I’ve watched more of the World Cup than I did on those summers I was unemployed.  I’ve dried up available online quizzes to take to the point I’m now on “What Kind of Tree Lichen/Garden Gnome Are You?”  I’ve emailed this album to members of my family simply saying “This.”  I’ve done everything other than try and write about this baffling album.

The music itself is not that baffling.  We’ve written about other great folk and Americana artists like Rin Tin Tiger, Niall Connolly, the Rationales and Buckeye Knoll to name a few.  Drawing comparisons would be an easy way to start; it would be incredibly facile to say Scorzari’s vocals were the equivalent of the Boss Trucking Company driving a dump truck of gravel up to the Waits Foundry, and that the truck was driven by this guy.  But to make those inevitable vocal comparisons does not come close to painting the entire picture so let me try this avenue:

For good or ill, I have never been a “country” guy.  I don’t know if it’s because of the direction it took towards the Garth Brooks/Alan Jackson route during my formative years or that I just don’t like big hats, but I have never been able to chip into the genre.  But I talk to people all the time who say they were converted into country fans and all it took was “that one band” to open their eyes.  I have listened to enough bands that I didn’t think it was in my DNA.

Enter Just the Same.  It is not by any stretch just a country album, but I get it now – or rather, I get what country can make you feel.  Combine a raw voice with raw emotion and lyrics about the human condition that are never heavy-handed – add in efficient acoustic guitars, mandolin, steel guitar, piano and drums from the Raddle Chains and Straw Walkers band and you are hooked on the folk. You are hooked from every “I’m going downtown/to drink all the whiskey I can find” in Eight of Nine (Just the Same) to every “it’ll be OK” in One More Time Today.

Bill Scorzari’s Just the Same could be my gateway drug to discovering country music, or at least I’m now tuned into Americana-folk-country from the New  York area.  Maybe it’s the genuine and unguarded emotions of the music, maybe it’s the voice, maybe the beard, or maybe the lack of big hats.  I just know that Just the Same is going to be on heavy rotation this summer.

Clay is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot.  He lives in Denver and now questions his aversion to Catholicism based on their tendency to wear large hats.