Making a Scene Brings you an interview with Scott Sean White
Suffice it to say, Scott Sean White is a dedicated singer/songwriter and an artist that exudes emotion. His music is borne from real life experience, complete with the hopes, heartaches and happenstance that define that journey and the revelations that occur along the way.
That’s never been more obvious than on his tellingly-titled upcoming album, Even on the Bad Days – the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, Call It Even. Releasing on January 19, it was produced by Grammy nominated producer Dave Brainard, who was at the helm for Brandy Clark’s landmark album “12 Stories” (the Grammy nomination) as well as albums by Jamey Johnson, Sunny Sweeney, Jon Wolfe, Drew Kennedy, and many others.
“When I started planning this record, I felt like I needed to have more up-tempo songs and more full band songs… Just to kind of take the next step from the first record, to progress forward,” Scott says. “The challenge with that was finding a sound that made sense with my voice and my songs, because a record with my name on it was not gonna be anything remotely resembling mainstream Nashville. It had to be me. That’s why I went and talked to my friend Dave Brainard to see if he would consider producing the project. He’s an outside-the-mainstream guy. He produces left-of-center songwriter records, so I felt like he could help me find that sound that would make sense for my stuff. And boy – did he ever.”
That’s clearly evident in each of these songs, each a strikingly sensitive reflection of Scott’s thoughtful and insightful feelings about life, love and the stages we all go through in an effort to fully grasp the changes and stages our individual journeys undergo. Both mellow and meaningful, Even on the Bad Days shares hope and happenstance in equal measure, allowing it to resonate well beyond any initial encounter.
That said, certain selections bear particular meaning. “Pulling Weeds” offers a thoughtful analogy about forgoing futile endeavors. It also takes a particularly prominent place in his set lists. As Scott says, “When I play this song at shows, I sometimes just say, ‘I don’t know about y’all, but I spend a lot of time and energy on things I should not spend my time and energy on.’”
Scott describes the origin of the tender, touching “Hope You Never Do” as borne from a songwriting session between Eric Erdman and Radney Foster at Fosters home. “The news or something came on the TV while they were having lunch,” Scott recalls. “Whatever it was, it made one of Radney’s kids say, ‘Dad, I don’t even know what it’s like to ball up my fist to hit someone.’ And Radney teared up and said, ‘I hope you never do.’ Eric gave him a minute and then said, ‘We’re writing that!’ However, they got stuck on the idea for some reason and couldn’t get it where they wanted. It was a year and half later that I met Eric for the first time and for some reason, he thought I was the guy to help them and the other co-writer, Chad Wilson, get it unstuck. We got together over zoom one day a few weeks later and left with this.”
The assertive and affirming “God Is Good” is another emotional offering. “This song was born on April 2 of 2021,” Scott explains. “I don’t usually know the exact date, but I do on this one. My second oldest brother Daniel had passed away on March 21 of 2021. And April 2 was the day my sister called and said that my oldest, and last remaining brother, Kirk, wasn’t gonna make it. He had been in ICU for a few weeks, gotten better, and then took a sudden turn for the worse. Kirk held on for two more days until April 4 – his 72nd birthday. But when my sister called and told me about Kirk, that was 12 days into losing Daniel. When I hung up the phone — I don’t know any other way to say it other than to simply say, God gave me this chorus. I picked up my guitar and I went out on the porch and sang this chorus over and over and over for an hour and a half. It was praise, it was grief, it was hard, and it was beautiful all at the same time. So early last summer when I started planning for this album, I thought it would be cool if I could write verses for that and make it into a whole song. It took me about five months to put it all together and in that process, I decided that this song should be the completely true song on the record – like “Call It Even” was on the first one.”
Those thoughts in mind, it’s easy to see the emotions and events that inspired “Even Better On The Bad Days.” But also, Scott says, “Making this new album was simply about putting more of my art out in the world. When I finished the first album, I just suddenly realized that hey, this is what I’m gonna do from now on. I’m going to put out records while I’m writing songs for other people. And I write a lot of songs that I don’t know if mainstream country artists would have any interest in recording because they’re too ‘different’ or too ‘heavy’ or just not commercial enough, but regardless, these songs say something I want to say in a way and at a level of craft that I am proud of. So this gives me a opportunity to give those songs a chance for the world to hear them.”
Scott’s success as a writer is firmly established. Cody Johnson recorded two of his songs on his Human album, “God Bless the Boy” and “Made a Home,” the latter of which was written with both Cody and their mutual friend Jesse Raub, Jr. Cody also recently recorded another song of Scott’s called “Over Missing You” for an upcoming album and he’s also been playing it as an encore song at several of his concerts this year.
In addition, Scott wrote the title track on Bryan Martin’s Poets and Old Souls EP. It climbed to #3 on the iTunes Country Album chart on release day, residing alongside superstars like Luke Combs and Lainey Wilson.
Scott’s own debut album, Call It Even, reached #3 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter album chart on its release in April 2021. It produced a #1 song on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter singles chart with “When I Go – Acoustic,” as well as three other Top 15 singles on the same chart – “Famous – Acoustic,” “Humankind – Acoustic,” and “Crazy Til It Works – Acoustic.”
The kudos came quickly as well. Mike Davies of folking.com said, “It’s an even bet, this could end up on your 2021 best of.” John Apice of Americana Highways declared, “This is where country music should be. One of the year’s best for sure.” Lesley Hastings of Think Country Music added “…it’s a debut which has definitely set the bar very high for whatever he has planned for the future…”
Scott started making trips once or twice a month back and forth from Texas to Nashville in 2005, signed his first publishing deal in 2007, and for the last five years, has been there writing for his current publisher two weeks every month. And while he writes songs that can find a fit in the musical mainstream, he also makes it a point to write songs that are true to him. They tend to be so poignant, passionate and personal that only he could sing them. Funny enough, he never envisioned himself as an artist per se. He says that by the time he started making his trips to Nashville, he had outgrown the desire to be famous. “It just didn’t interest me anymore,” he insists. “My heart was in the off-the-beaten path songs that had some real meat on the bone. And that’s not exactly commercial.”
He chose the songs he chose for this new album because, Scott says. “They make me feel something and I hope they make people feel something, too. I hope people feel less alone when they hear me sharing the struggles I describe in some of the songs. I hope people smile when they hear some of them. I hope they make people think, like they made me think when I wrote them. But I also hope that there are days when they just turn the album on in the car on a road trip and blast it as loud as they can.”
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