Track by Track Review: Jamie Scott’s ‘How Still the River’

Image courtesy Jamie Scott and Sonnet Music.

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If the name Jamie Scott rings a bell, it’s likely because he’s been all over the liner notes of your favorite albums, writing for such artists as One Direction, Christina Perri, Niall Horan, Justin Bieber, and many more. But Scott is also an accomplished solo artist in his own right, with his song “Made” appearing in Step Up and his single “Unbreakable” appearing on The Vampire Diaries. His latest album How Still the River was released earlier this month, and we here at Nerds and Beyond have been playing it on repeat ever since! Read on for our track-by-track breakdown of the album.

“This Time Lucky”

If the name Jamie Scott is tucked into the side of your brain where British songwriters sit with worthy credits passed on to other artists, this gut-wrenching number will forcibly shine a spotlight on his talent. Within the first few instances of hearing his voice hit against a ballad brought on from piano keys, we justifiably questioned why he has yet to achieve the popularity of the artists he’s written for. With sentiments tuned to homely and safe, “This Time Lucky” displays the melancholy one feels when the relationships we once saw wistfully starts to creep into the otherwise.

“Emily”

You might have thought you were over your ex, but Jamie Scott will sow the seeds of doubt with this beautifully wistful song that reminisces over his time with his ex, Emily. In fact, he’s still very much in love with her and plans to wait for her to return to him. “Emily, it’s late but that’s ok/I’ll wait for you/ Right here on this wooden bench, I’ll stay/Still in love with you.” The melancholic yet hopeful lyrics paint their relationship in your mind’s eye. And the story is artfully complemented by the simple acoustics and upbeat melody which allow Scott’s vocals to really shine. Top to bottom this is a perfectly composed song listeners will find themselves revisiting over and over (and over). You can watch the video for the song here.

Image courtesy Jamie Scott and Sonnet Music.

“New York Nights”

If you thought that the 2020 Summer Bops List was complete, think again! “New York Nights” has that perfect mix of playful lyrics and upbeat, hip-swaying, dance-around-your-room kind of magic that’ll have you adding it to every one of your playlists. and listening to it on repeat. It’s the kind of song that makes you long for those summer nights spent out on the town with catchy lyrics like “I got a little bit crazy/Baby tonight/Dancing in your arms” and “Oh what a night to count the stars/ Cause they’re shining for us/Baby you know they are.” Scott paints such a vivid picture with his songwriting that it’s impossible not to sing along and smile as he sings, “Oh, you and I on a New York Night.” Don’t believe us? Check out the lyric video here now! There is even an acoustic version of the song if that’s more your style!

“I Never Want to Hurt Again Like This”

This is possibly the saddest song on the album, and Scott’s songwriting prowess really comes to the forefront. Where “Emily” was about an ex and slightly hopeful, “I Never Want to Hurt Again Like This” is the discovery of an unfaithful lover and the resulting pain. The lyrics pull you in, with strong visuals of the scorned lover seeing “two shadows move across the floor,” and so he declares, “I never want to love again.” The sorrowful lyrics are only heightened by accompanying strings that serve to drive home the pain of being cheated on and giving up on love.

“While the Band Keeps Playing On”

Oh boy, does a poetically charged metaphor twist our insides into a mushy introspective mess as it calls upon similar stories blemished with heartbreak. Scott strips down the romantically charged imagery of a band stretched across a Hollywood movie screen into the thoughts spiraling through his head when the rest of the world is moving on, but he’s unable to because his love is gone. Stunning couplets taking on this theme include, “A penny for your sorrow/A score for your love/I’d give it all tomorrow/But it wouldn’t be enough” and “And the strings are in their places/The band starts the show/You left me a little high, sitting in the front row.” Additionally, letting the melody take us out of it with the final utterance of “While the band keeps playing on” is an incredibly smart move. It sets a reminder that the performance is still happening within the song’s universe. You can listen to the track here.

“Friendly Fire”

A song that should definitely be played in a coming of age movie, “Friendly Fire” is an emotional track that shows Scott displaying his vulnerable side to fans. About a difficult relationship, listeners are taken on an emotional rollercoaster for the entirety of the song. Although there are tragic undertones, Scott does a wonderful job of turning said tragedy into something that is lyrically beautiful. Speaking of beautiful, check out the acoustic version on Scott’s YouTube channel.

“Bottle of Pills”

“Bottle of Pills” is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album, with a strong rhythm that gives country vibes. The lyrics, however, tell a different story, one about a love who doesn’t quite return the narrator’s affections the way he wants. The mix in tones makes this song interesting, with the chorus making the narrator’s dilemma clear: “Baby you’re the reason why I’m dying/Oh you know if looks could kill/You’d be my bottle of pills and/Swear that when they found me I’d be smiling.” It’s a dark message with an almost happy beat, and that contradiction pushes on the listener throughout.

Image courtesy Jamie Scott and Sonnet Music.

“Fool’s Gold”

Scott is perhaps best known as a songwriter for other artists, with hundreds of songwriting credits to his name. One of the best known bands he’s collaborated with is One Direction, being the only songwriter to work on all of the band’s studio albums. Here, he chooses to cover “Fool’s Gold,” a song the band sang on their album Four that he co-wrote. It’s a popular choice for a cover song, with former 1D member Niall Horan also making the track his own in a Spotify Singles session to promote his album Flicker in 2017. Scott’s cover is bare-bones, allowing the listener to really hear the lyrics and Scott’s voice.

“Feels So Good”

“Feels So Good” makes you feel exactly like the title says — so good. The track itself has a bit of a folk feel to it (think Mumford & Sons or Hozier). With the softness of Scott’s vocals and the intimacy of a stripped down track intertwined into the mix, it’s the perfect addition to the album.

“Song For a Friend”

A sneaky number at first glance, it’s a simple love ballad with the blending of Scott’s voice over the plucks of a guitar. However, what we’ve learned about Scott thus far is that he feels deeply. There’s always an undercurrent of something more; this juxtaposition of having a blanket wrapped around you yet still having goosebumps eroded from the open window beside your head. As the song progresses, we realize the friend in question who’s been by the other’s side is in all actuality longing to be the person tangled in their arms. The first clue is “And it’s the choir that lose/Music sounded so much brighter played by you/Now the crowd sits patient with their lighters” until we’re shockingly met with the final couplet “When you’re dancing in his arms on your wedding night/Looking up into the sky/When you can’t see my light/I’m dancing by your side.” It’s one of our favorite tracks because as much as we like to portray love as an emotion that is serendipitous, sometimes true love is wanting someone else to be happy even if it’s not with you. You can listen to the song here.

“I Was There”

It’s a bold choice to end an album with an instrumental track, but it pays off. “I Was There” is a different sound from the other tracks on the album and makes a nice bookend with the slower “This Time Lucky.” It’s the kind of song you want to listen to when you’re driving around with no destination in particular, getting lost in the world around you.

The album How Still the River is available now!

Jules

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I am a nursing student and dedicated fangirl from Boston! When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural and Lost or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). I'm a huge Disney fan and my happy place is the Happiest Place on Earth! When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing and listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense and occasionally rants.

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