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For song writers that lean to the introspective, the pandemic’s forced isolation gave them some quality composing time. That seems to be the case with North Carolina’s Shay Martin Lovette. Holed up in a remote cabin he crafted some fine indie folk material. Mipso’s Joseph Terrell took over production duties, added some pop structure to the bluegrass instrumentation and the result became Scatter & Gather.

Several of the songs on the record carry a similar light-hearted facade of catchy hooks, but lyrically bring a deeper message. Something Wild (All the Way Through) injects a little slide into a tale of watching life unfold with friends. For Rose Marie uses clarinet to invoke a feeling of yesteryear and the story of a troubled spirit that everyone roots for. That Spark features Lovette on harmonica in a plea to follow your heart, not your brain. Further From My Demons gets some subtle piano emphasis to the realization that “I’m further from my demons the closer I get to you.”

A few songs strike out in related directions. Parkway Bound is country waltz that manages to emotionally capture the feeling of life slowing a bit when you’re in beautiful surroundings. On A One Way Flight is a haunting ballad about fond remembrances. Upstate is a noir, Twin Peaks-like song about the truest of friends, one that “can help you disappear upstate”, when leaving is the best course of action.

Sometimes we here in Twangville get tangled in all the genres of our favorite music and debating the merits of one style of bluegrass over another. The cure for that is a good dose of earnest pop layered over some Americana style that’s just enjoyable. If you’re ready for a shot of that, you can’t do much better than Scatter & Gather.

About the author:  I’ve actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I’ve seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.

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