Multi-instrumentalist Hilary Scott (with one ‘L’) has opened for Tanya Tucker, Chuck Berry, and Little Feat (joining them on stage for “Dixie Chicken”) and has also recorded with Bonnie Raitt’s musicians. Known for her soulful, bluesy, roots style, long-time fans may be surprised by her new record, Kaleidoscope. The newest release takes her into a pop-rock vein with 4 of the songs being co-written in Nashville during a songwriting project. To quote the liner notes, “Kaleidoscope is a record that gathers together and honors the various colors of an eclectic musical landscape of different styles, genres, snapshots in time…”
In 2007, when Nashville producer Matthew Wilder invited Scott, along with John Goodwin and Angela Kaset to participate in a songwriting project, she jumped at the chance. Kaset was with Ten Ten music group for years and wrote Lorrie Morgan’s big hit, “Something in Red” and she also wrote songs for Suzy Boggus, Wynonna Judd, and Elaine Page to name a few. John Goodwin co-wrote multiple songs from the soundtrack for the movie “Crazy Heart” with Jeff Bridges.
“I wasn’t used to writing with others; for me songwriting had always been a personal love affair,” confessed Scott. “ Because this album was a co-writing and publishing project, I didn’t approach it in the same way as all of my other albums, which often were about processing thoughts, feelings and experiences in my life at the time of the songwriting. I came to this project with some chord progressions I liked, as well as some ‘moods’ or concepts, but much of what went on in my mind was excitement over exploring ideas with other songwriters.”
The result was Kaleidoscope, 4 co-written songs with the group and 1 song added that Scott penned on her own, “And Just” which won an award in the Festival Degli Autori songwriting competition in Sanremo, Italy. Scott’s beautifully lush and sultry vocals are a thread throughout the recording with Wilder and Goodwin adding backing vocals to several tracks. Wilder also contributed to guitars, keys and drum programming and the band consisted of Nashville heavy hitters-- Gary Lunn on bass, Jerry Kimbrough on guitars, and Lonnie Wilson on drums.
“Just A Shame” was written by Scott and Wilder from the perspective of reflection on personal heartbreak. Scott’s sultry vocals add to the poignancy of the lyrics; “Let me thank you for this pain | Even if we loved in vain | I wish we could be the same | Instead of being just a shame”.
“Almost Home” is a co-write with Kaset and Wilder. The writers wanted the lyrics and music itself to pull the listener into a dreamy world that makes them feel they are falling in love for the first time. “Hold me close | Breathe me in | ‘Cause I’m right here where I’ve always been | You’re almost home, home, home”.
“Too Much Is Not Enough” was written with Goodwin and Wilder. It’s an analogy for getting the most out of life no matter where you’ve been before. Scott notes, “Matt had a great time playing with effects on this one to give it a more rock feel.”
The most personal song on the album, “And Just” was written by Scott in 2010 for her now-husband, AJ and was recorded by renowned Italian producer, Euro Ferrari. “Euro producing the track was my award for winning the international section of the Festival Degli Autori,” she explains. “I got to stay in a cabin on his property outside of Rome. He loved to cook and would surprise me and other guests with delicious pastas and his favorite liqueurs. One night Euro told stories well into the small hours about celebrities as diverse as Sting, Pavarotti, and Bjork. It was an unforgettable night. I felt like a member of the glitterati.”
The EP ends with “Free Country” which was written by Scott, Wilder and Goodwin. “I had never done anything remotely approaching a dance song before in my life, so this song definitely took me the farthest out from my comfort zone,” she admits. “Matt, John and I were like three goofy kids, bouncing from lyrical idea to idea. Whisper-singing, singing in Spanish, and stretching my range a bit more were all incredibly fun elements to explore while we were recording, and the instrumentation layers are fantastically fun and unique, in particular the horn section.”
The global pandemic gave Scott the chance to revisit the songs on Kaleidoscope. “The songs represent a risk I took,” she explains. “I was exploring genres that were well outside my norm at the time.” The 4 songs were originally recorded in 2011 by Wilder in his Wilderside studio and were re-mastered (with 2 being re-mixed) by Wilder in 2020. “We’ve approached them with fresh ears and they feel almost as if we could have written them in 2020,” said Scott.
“My life in music has been a process of following my passion from one opportunity to the next,” said Scott. “The thought of stopping never occurred to me, because the enjoyment, the reasons for doing the music have always been there. I feel really satisfied by the things that have organically come my way.”
The eclectic nature of what she writes, and her willingness to explore diverse genres and not lock herself into one style is what sets Hilary Scott apart. Kaleidoscope is the perfect showcase for these talents.