Every now and then an album you had little to know expectations about explodes out of your speakers and completly blows your mind. Such was the case with Darrell Scott’s latest album, 10 Songs of Ben Bullington and I. The first song title on the album to catch my attention was “Country Music, I’m Talking To You” so I played it first. It’s a cute song kind of clowning on modern country music. Truthfully, it’s better than most songs of that ilk but for me, they’re much like protest songs and as such, have very little staying power. It was when I got to the third song (second if you listen to the album in proper order) that I had to stop what I was doing and really think about what was coming out of the headphones. The song is called, “Born In ’55” and some might call it a nostalgia song but for me it’s completely a song about the death of innocence. I had to listen to it 4 times before I could even move on with the rest of the album. Needless to say, Darrell had my attention at that point and “Born In ’55” was not the last song I was gonna play two or more times in a row on that first pass.
10 Songs Of Ben Bullington is a tribute album to an unknown Montana doctor who liked writing songs in his spare time. Darrell and Ben met as divorced fathers on a camping trip and over time a friendship blossomed. In 2012 Ben was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it was then that he started sharing his songs with Darrell. Darrell saw something in the songs and in Ben’s closing months he started fleshing out demos for Ben to critique. One of those initial takes made it all the way to this album unaltered in the heartbreakingly loving piano ballad that doubles as a goodbye to Ben’s children, “I’ve Got To Leave You Now.”
At times this can, admittedly, be a difficult album to listen to. Especially if someone close to you has died soon enough that the wounds are not completely healed but the listen is worth it. They pay-off is there. In these sparse arrangements of an unknown songwriter’s songs performed by one of the most respected songwriters in the Americana scene in a manner that let’s the songs be the star we are reminded that with great talent does not always come great (any) recognition.