Scott Pryor's songs feel much older than he is. In tune and verse, he documents the darker moments of our country's history alongside songs of love, friendship and longing. His songs aren't so much played as they are passed on. It sounds a lot like America.
With lilting melodies, plaintive guitar strumming and a harmonic sensibility that sounds like your grandfather's best suit jacket smelled, Pryor's tunes reflect the workmanlike diligence with which he approaches his writing. Each one is a house: built sturdy with a rock foundation, erected tall upon a deep-rooted history, and finally finished with a craftsman's touch around the edges. You don't see the dirt and sweat that went into it, but you can feel they're there.
Pryor's pedigree has covered much of the country: The Austin-based singer/songwriter was born in Virginia, raised in North Carolina and found a musical home in Philadelphia, where he first joined up with his band, the Common Sinners, and built a strong local following playing living room concerts to hushed (and packed) houses. In 2005 he released his debut album, Suggestions for the Tailor, which he followed up with 2009's acclaimed Theater for the Weary. His latest project is the five-song EP If We Set Out Now(June 2011).
Unlike singer/songwriters who simply mine topics and love and loss, Pryor has a deep affinity for American history, and his writing goes a long way toward documenting our country's untold stories. Like an ethnomusicologist who can carry a mean tune, he's attracted to the oral history of the untold moments in people's pasts.
The new recording, a 5-song EP, is truly the work of friends. There are the friends who play on the album: Pryor teamed up once again with Devin Greenwood (Amos Lee, Hoots and Hellmouth, Birdie Busch), who produced Theater for the Weary, to record the album at the Honey Jar Studio in Brooklyn. And for the first time he recorded with his crackerjack backing band, the Common Sinners, including Greenwood, Emma and Jake Morrow, Tom Bendel, Todd Erk, and Ross Bellenoit. Emma Morrow shares lead vocal duties on “Gasoline Love,” a song about the courtship of Pryor’s grandparents. (He sings the part of his grandfather, while Morrow plays his grandmother.)
Then there are the friends who actually financed it: As an independent musician, Pryor enlisted more than 100 fans, friends and family through a Kickstarter.com campaign that raised nearly $6,000 (almost 150 percent of the original project goal) to finish the EP—-meaning that the vast community of fans Pryor has built over the years through a steady, diligent diet of concerts around the country had a strong hand in seeing his latest work to the light.
And finally there are the friends who sing the songs—not just on the album, but in concert. Several of these tunes are well known to Pryor’s fans and already induce audience sing-alongs, from the his-and-hers vocals of “Gasoline Love” to the haunting refrain of “Lay Me Down” to the windows-down, road-trip exuberance of “Avalanche of Song.”
The five songs that comprise If We Set Out Now mark a new high point for Pryor as a songwriter and musician. Covering the last few years’ worth of Pryor’s musical evolution, the EP delivers a heartfelt tale of journeys, introspection, and the many ways to define one’s self.
Tom Bendel - Drums
Jake Morrow - Banjo, Guitar, Backing Vocals, mandolin
Emma Morrow - Backing Vocals, Fiddle
Todd Erk - Bass
If We Set Out Now, 2011 (Self-Released)
Theater for the Weary, 2009 (Self-Released)
Wait EP, 2008 (Self-Released)
Suggestions for the Tailor, 2005 (Self-Released)
Theater for the Weary Review
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“[Pryor] is perhaps the finest acoustic songwriter in Philadelphia right now. On 'Theater for the We...“[Pryor] is perhaps the finest acoustic songwriter in Philadelphia right now. On 'Theater for the Weary,' Pryor’s sophomore disc, he masters folk tropes that many artists spend careers cultivating...Like an East Coast Josh Ritter, Pryor pulls off delivering acoustic melancholia with a smile.” -- Jeffrey Barg
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"Suggestions" is a nice musical wardrobe for a talented young man at a musical crossroads. Pryor has..."Suggestions" is a nice musical wardrobe for a talented young man at a musical crossroads. Pryor has written tunes that are muscular in spirit, undergirded by his earnest tenor and the introspective, tightly written songs. Like a modern-day Woody Guthrie, Pryor writes from various personas and tells powerful stories of what molded him into who he is today...Listen to his words. He pushes even the casual listener to think.
Lunar Groove Music Reviews
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Only one in ten singer-songwriters currently performing is truly worthy of our attention. Scott Pryo...Only one in ten singer-songwriters currently performing is truly worthy of our attention. Scott Pryor is that one in ten and he shows it on his debut collection, "Suggestions for the Tailor." His guitar work demonstrates a range spanning the elegance of Nick Drake to the acoustic bash of the Violent Femmes. His melodic twists, lyrical content and stripped down production hint at everyone from The Beatles and Beck to Neil Young and Warren Zevon...His songs are immediate and heartfelt...A&R reps may argue about the commercial viability of Pryor's voice and songs, but that won't matter. Everyone who hears them will already know just how valuable they are.
Set Length: 30-90 minutes
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