Boz Scaggs: A Fool to Care Review

The renowned bluesman Boz Scaggs has a new album out, and it’s classic Scaggs. It’s also classic Al Green, classic Spinners, and classic Bobby Charles. If you weren’t a blues history buff before listening to A Fool to Care, you wouldn’t recognize 11 of Scaggs’ 12 new tracks as covers. On each song, Scaggs puts his decades of experience and emotional connections to American roots music to work, producing a collection that stands as one of this year’s best blues records to date.

Since releasing his debut solo album Boz in 1965, Scaggs has transformed from an unknown youngster raised on 1950s-era Chicago and Texas blues to a venerable musician with a short stint in the Steve Miller Band and over 20 releases to his name. Many of his songs (such as “Loan Me a Dime” off 1969’s Boz Scaggs or “Lido Shuffle” from 1976’s Silk Degrees) are respected as classics to modern blues fans, much like the songs Scaggs once looked up to as a teenager. While the artists sampled on A Fool to Care are big in name, the songs Scaggs reinvents are not. Instead of covering Green’s “Tired of Being Alone” or the Band’s “The Weight,” Scaggs revives “Full of Fire” and “Whispering Pines.” By the end of the album, Scaggs has tapped songs by Green, the Spinners, Charles, the Band, Li’l Millet and the Creoles, the Impressions, Jack Walroth, Richard Hawley, Huey “Piano” Smith, and Les Paul and Mary Ford – an expansive list of blues, roots, and soul creators that enables Scaggs to nod to his musical forefathers and flex his muscles in multiple genres.

Recorded in four days in Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, Scaggs quickly enlisted the help of Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams to pitch in on vocals. Raitt appears on the single Scaggs original “Hell to Pay,” a six minute-long critique of human corruption on which Raitt steps in as both vocalist and slide guitarist. On the album’s final track, Williams’ vocals lend a melancholy air to the Band’s “Whispering Pines” as Scaggs trades lyrics with her, bringing an end to Scaggs’ latest project of covers.

From the soulful “Full of Fire” to the Latin-inspired “Last Tango on 16th Street,” Scaggs invigorates the blues by reminding listeners that it’s a versatile genre, able to incorporate instruments and sounds that aren’t typically associated with its bluesman-on-the-porch image. Drawing from several of the artists that helped shape the genre in the mid-1900s, Scaggs finds a way to make the blues new again.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Rich Woman
– Hell to Pay
– Small Town Talk
– Last Tango on 16th Street

The Big Hit

– Hell to Pay

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon

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