Seventeen years ago Rod Picott dropped his tool belt, picked up an acoustic guitar and released his first album Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues. The acclaimed debut put a nail in the coffin of his construction career and ignited his second career as a singer-songwriter. With his new album, Out Past The Wires, that second career reveals itself in full flame.
The sprawling twenty-two song Out Past The Wires ranges from whispery ballads to guitar driven rockers and hits every musical spot between. Like much of Picott’s catalog, many of the songs on Out Past The Wires center around the lives of working people and the losses, defeats and small victories that can come hard won in a calloused world. It is here in the ordinary where Picott finds the gold he mines so beautifully on songs such as “Take Home Pay” – one of four songs written with longtime friend and co-writer Slaid Cleaves.
I’m on my way down to the pawnshop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to I’ll hit the blood bank
I’m bone dry but I can always bleed
But there is also an air of defiance that runs through many of the songs this time around. On “Fire Inside” Picott growls.
I got fire down inside
a heart darlin’ beating hard and wild
In the pouring rain
I will stand and testify
Cause I got a fire down inside.
Picott’s eye for the revealing detail and sense of empathy has brought praise from music critics since his debut and those qualities, as well as a potent defiance is on full display across Out Past The Wires. Now 52 years old and nine albums into his music career Picott is more prolific than ever. The twenty-two songs were culled from a staggering number of seventy-eight. In the two years between Fortune and Out Past The Wires, Picott has also become a published poet (God In His Slippers – Mezcalita Press) written a screenplay and is releasing collection of short stories, also titled Out Past The Wires, that accompanies the release of the album. Many of the characters from the songs on the album find their stories expanded and even more finely detailed in the book.