With his oak-tree baritone, easygoing delivery, and ability to turn a phase, Ray Scott has been delivering his traditional-sounding brand of country music to the honky-tonk masses for more than 15 years.
On Sept. 17, Ray will release his new studio album, Cover the Earth. Ray had a hand in writing every tune on the 12-song album, eight of which he penned by himself.
We caught up to Ray Scott for Outsider‘s 5 Questions as he was waiting on a tarmac in Alaska for a flight back to Nashville.
1. What’s going on in Alaska?
Ray Scott: I had a couple of shows in Palmer and Soldotna. My wife Stacey was with me, so we took in a cruise out of Seward and saw a bunch of whales. The logistics prevented me from fishing this time, but I saw quite a few folks catching em, and started scheming for the next trip out. I’ve been to Alaska six times now. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.
2. Last time we talked, you had recently stopped drinking. What’s your wagon status?
Ray Scott: I maintained complete sobriety for two years. After that, I reached a point where I allowed myself a little bit in social situations, but never near the extent that I’d dabbled in before. I’m not a guy who enjoys the feeling of not being in control. I’ve definitely found a good balance.
3. Your new album features eight tracks you wrote by yourself. Was that quarantine related?
Ray Scott: The pandemic took me out of a certain comfort zone. It taught me that it was easier to pivot than I thought, with all that idle time. It also freed me up creatively, allowing me to pick up the pen and guitar and do some worthwhile work. The pandemic also taught me that people truly appreciate what we try to do. And it’s a lot more valuable than I might allow myself to believe sometimes. I’ve always written alone quite a bit. I enjoy it. It keeps the focus in an extremely real, uncompromising place.
4. You have such a knack for turning a phrase, I think you unfairly get labeled a ‘novelty’ sometimes, instead of a traditionalist. Thoughts?
Ray Scott: Ya know, [laughing] to be honest, it didn’t occur to me at first that that could happen. Fact is, I’ve got a pretty deep bench, filled with a ton of heavier, more serious, extremely emotional material. However, I can be a little on the kooky side from time to time, which is fun. It’s a little disappointing to hear that impression from folks. It simply tells me they’ve listened to maybe only two or three of my songs, while I have eight albums full of original, serious material out there as well. Man, I grew up loving Jerry Reed, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash . . . all of those guys could turn out a funny song here and there, then remind folks they’ve got other tricks in the bag. That’s my intention as well. The new album has got some different stylistic sounds goin’ on. A little more classic-rock influence here and there maybe. And there are no funny songs!
5. What’s the scoop behind the two new tracks you’re premiering with Outsider today as part of your Digital 45s?
Ray Scott: “As Long As The Bar’s Open” is just a fun singalong about that joint we all know of where we go to be around our own ilk. Where we know we’re not alone in our pain. That tune makes me think about the TV show Cheers a little. Typical lament to a great watering hole. “Take a Drink” leans hard toward the darker side of drinking, and where excess with it can lead. A lot of country songwriters celebrate drinking in their songs, including myself on numerous occasions. This one’s maybe a little more of a cautionary tale, definitely informed by some of my own personal experience.