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EP Review: Scotty Dunbar / In A Mellow Mood

Scotty Dunbar
In A Mellow Mood
Down Boys Records

Reviewed by: Roger Scales

I have to admit that new artists often bore me.  I’m not sure if it’s my nature as a music fan to be cynical, but I find myself often not giving a band a chance until months after a new album is released.

When I hear about a “great new band” I will take my time reading reviews online but more often than not I will look to my inner core circle of dependable rock gurus to give me the low down on anything that might end up in my musical rotation. 

Anyone who knows me personally or just as that “80’s Guy” from my online album reviews, interviews with top rock artists or giving my thoughts on a local gig would figure that In A Mellow Mood would be barking right up my tree – It’s on “Down Boys Records” owned and operated by Jerry Dixon and Erik Turner of Warrant.  Hmm…ok so if I like Warrant does that mean they are automatically going to distribute new music geared towards a Warrant fan?  Brings me to back to ‘Simmons Records” days of the late 80’s when I first gave bands like Silent Rage and House of Lords a chance just because Gene Simmons gave his stamp of approval.  Those ended up being some of my favorite releases but earned that distinction strictly on their own merit.  Well I can honestly say that In A Mellow Mood featuring Massachusetts native Scotty “I’m no relation to the armored truck company” Dunbar is an ambitious, moody, soft yet rich collection of very uplifting tracks that touch the soul and will delight fans of all musical genres…and yes gets the official 80’s Guy stamp of approval. 

The opening track “Tears in The City” was first heard last year on Warrant’s comeback album (also the first featuring vocalist Robert Mason) Rockaholic and was one of the record’s stronger tracks.  Dunbar’s version is slower in tempo and also features vocal contributions from AMJ (singer Ashley Johnson) but is no less enjoyable than the original.  I would compare Dunbar’s vocal style as Bob Dylan meets Billy Corgan.  AMJ’s smooth tones give the track a cleaner feel to it than the more over the top Warrant version, so for this it’s a win-win situation with the same tune having two different feels to it.  Give them both a shot rock fans!

I had heard “Memories Never Fade” years ago in the wake of The Station nightclub tragedy in Warwick RI in Feb 2003.  Dunbar (a Station nightclub survivor) was holding a benefit in his hometown of Woburn and sales of that single went directly to the families of two of his friends that he had gone to the show that night – Eugene Avilez and Derek Gray. I still have my original copy. That version lacked the production value that Kenny Lewis brings to the 2012 version not to mention keyboards from Jeremy Heussi and a lead guitar solo from Stryper’s Michael Sweet.  This tune is a long lasting tribute to all of the Station nightclub victims and I actually have a hard time “enjoying” it in a sense because the tragedy has hit me so personally but when the “mood” strikes me so does this song.  Painful yet uplifting – I’m certain that was Dunbar’s intent.

“Something So Wrong” is my favorite track on this E.P.  It’s the best mesh of vocal styles possible with AMJ’s higher tone to Dunbar’s gritty almost sliding pitch.  I think the track would have benefited greatly using acoustic guitar instead of keyboards but if performed live the song shows great potential.  Also I would touch it up lyrically by adding an additional chorus because the song is a tad too short. In fact I have already found myself starting the song over again in the hopes that it gets longer the next time I listen to it!  Not much wrong here.

“Pillar of Strength” features Dunbar along with Louis St. August of MASS contributing vocals here as well.  I think what carries this song is the conviction to which it was performed by both of them.  We can all relate to this on some level or another with anyone at one time having someone who you can rely on for comfort and support both emotionally and physically.  You do get that vintage Louis over the top note at the end of the song..the man can still bring his A game to any project he lends himself out to.  Again this would make an interesting song live, with both having such drastically different vocal styles. 

“Landslide” I thought was a pretty interesting track to cover by Dunbar.  First recorded by Fleetwood Mac in 1975, it has been covered by several different artists over the being The Smashing Pumpkins in 1994.  Didn’t I already mention the comparison of Dunbar to Corgan earlier??  Yea I did.  Scotty..thanks for making my point for me!  This cover works for the same reason it worked for the Pumpkins.  Genuine, real and that poetry is meant for matter what the age.

That statement pretty much sums up how I view Dunbar’s efforts here.  I think Down Boys Records has the right idea by not necessarily targeting glam or sleaze type metal acts to their label.  Funny thing is  – that’s just what Dunbar eats, drinks and lives on by his own admission. But what we have here music fans is simple: something old, something new, something borrowed, something true!  In a Mellow Mood keeps me “In a Good Mood” without having to bang my head to it.

Purchase In A Mellow Mood on iTunes

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