Six albums into his career, it would be wrong to say Grayson Capps has arrived — he’s too seasoned and world-weary to think the journey is over. No, on “Scarlett Roses,” the Alabama native is still finding his way, and his tales of drunken nights and the vagaries of life reveal a man who is OK with everything not being OK.
With a rocking, alt-country vibe that’s simpatico with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young and Son Volt, Capps kicks off the record with the airy and melodic Gram Parsons-esque title track, which leads into “Hold Me Darlin’,” a fun, Little Feat-esque ditty complete with swooning pedal steel. “Bag Of Weed” has the road-story feel of a classic Drive-by Truckers tune; Capps is “high on whiskey and low on cash,” with a “bag of weed and a case of beer,” “spending a night out in the woods/ hoping life could do me some good.”
“Thankful” is a straight-ahead country rocker, with some crunchy free-flowing guitar. Here, Capps is “thankful for moonshine to take away the pain.”
“New Again” is one of the most low-key selections on “Scarlett Roses” — and one of its most arresting. It’s a ballad, tender and stark, atmospheric and warm, with harmonica washes filling out the sonic canvas. Capps sings of a rebirth, but he is quick to point out, this is no religious born-again deal.
“Taos” is more than eight minutes of cinematic darkness, with sheets of squalling guitar enveloping the vocals. His traveling partner’s “belly’s starting to show.” “I’ll drive all through the night,” Capps sings, mysteriously. “We’ll make Taos by the morning light.”
Capps closes the album with “Moving On,” a fitting, loose-limbed end to the record, but not to Capps’ travels. “We ain’t gonna be here long,” he sings. “They’ll make us their target if we stick around/ It’s time we’ll be moving on.”