Scott Ramminger Do What Your Heart Says To
Arbor Lane Music/www.ScottRamminger.com
It takes but a few measures of “Living Too Fast” for the listener to understand from where Alabama-DC-Nashville songwriter, musician, and singer Scott Ramminger is coming.
First there is the deep, propulsive drum beat established by Doug Belote. Then, in a wave of keys, horns, and guitar straight out of New Orleans comes the vibrancy of that city’s musical heritage courtesy of recognizable names including Dave Torkanowsky, Rick Trolsen, Greg Hicks, George Porter, Jr., and Shane Theriot.
Once the groove is established, coming in through the middle is Ramminger- swampy-voiced and hardcore, listing the ways his woman is working to improve his situation. The lyrics are archetypal blues, but the sound is essential Crescent City, that irresistible mix of blues, R&B, and funky rock ‘n roll, sweetened by a taste of jazz and roadhouse.
What follows is an hour of self-crafted, well-earned hard luck and self-immolation over a steady Louisiana backdrop. The title track, which features Francine Reed (heard on Lyle Lovett and His Large Band,) goes to church via the tavern to ensure we understand that we pass this way only once, so we might as well follow our hearts. In that spirit, the album’s most appealing track may well be “Someone New to Disappoint;” if you know you’re gonna lose, you may as well find someone you don’t mind losing with seems to be the essential testimony of this saxophone (by Ramminger) showcase. Featuring Bekka Bramlett, this one should attract airplay from discerning stations.
Janiva Magness joins Ramminger on the blazing, classic-sounding “It’s Hard to Be Me.” The instrumental break about a minute and a half in is pure magic. The fella is selling hard—what’s harder to tell is if she is buying.
The McCrary Sisters add essential soul to four numbers. “Get Back Up” provides extended inspiration in a very different manner than “Walk A Little Straighter.” Ramminger is all about encouraging ones better self to come to the fore, and he does it as only a bluesman can—by not giving a damn if his heart or nose get broke. “I Need a New One” is the album’s longest track, and perhaps the most jazz-based. Tornkanowsky lays out the foundation, enhanced by the killer rhythm section and the encouragement of the McCrary Sisters.
The album closes with additional testimony from Ramminger in the form of “Stubborn Man:” based on what came before I’m guessing is his self-composed elegy.
“You may not believe me,
but it is all going to work out fine
If I beat my head against the wall
just a few more times.”
Surrounding himself with the very best musicians and vocalists he could find was Ramminger’s finest decision. Coming to the studio with a series of songs—some whimsical, some proud, all honest and real (give “Winter Is Always Worse” a listen)—was also crucial to making Do What Your Heart Says To the complete success that it is.