One spin through Fortune, Rod Picott’s latest album, will inspire any number of referential name-checks and stylistic comparisons, from the storytelling prowess of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark to the passionate-soul reflection of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan. (For those who keep track of such things, the album’s powerfully affecting guitar work is provided by Will Kimbrough.)
But even a casual glance at Picott’s biography reveals an equal amount of real-life, physical connections to some of the most influential figures in the Americana/Folk scene and is solid proof of Picott’s patiently tenacious, whatever-it-takes approach to his own career.
The New Hampshire-born/Maine-raised singer/songwriter played in a succession of local bands and eventually co-wrote several songs with Slaid Cleaves, whom he met when both were in second grade. After a busking stint in Boulder, Colo., Picott relocated to Nashville, Tenn. in 1994 where he established a solid reputation through years of club work, while also supporting himself by hanging sheetrock and doing other similar manual labor. Picott had proven himself to be a potent songwriter, but his name received wide exposure when he co-wrote “Gettin’ to Me” with Folk/Rock favorite Fred Eaglesmith for Eaglesmith’s 1999 album 50 Odd Dollars. The year before, Picott had signed with a management company that also worked with Alison Krauss, leading to an opening slot on Krauss’ tour, which exposed him to her supportive and wide range of fans.
After seven years of dues-paying in Nashville, Picott released his debut album, 2001’s Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues, named after his great uncle, who was a boxer during the Depression. Since then, Picott has made up for lost time, dropping eight additional studio sets, including 2009’s Sew Your Heart with Wires with then-girlfriend Amanda Shires and this year’s widely acclaimed Fortune.
You may not recognize his name, but it’s about time you did. Rod Picott maps the cratered terrain around a broken heart with the determination of Lewis and Clark and the craggy poetic sensitivity of Leonard Cohen.
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