Boz Scaggs will complete a “so-called trilogy” of albums exploring his musical roots with the July 27 release of Out Of The Blues — whose opening track, “Rock and Stick,” is premiering below.
The nine-song set (with bonus tracks on other editions) follows 2013's Memphis and 2015's A Fool To Care and continues a collaboration Scaggs began with Steve Jordan “to explore some music that had both of our roots, let's say, in common; stuff that inspired us and gave us a good common platform.” As Out Of The Blues' title suggest, the final part of the trilogy “has more of a bluesy cast over it,” blending originals with covers of songs by Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jimmy Reed and even a take on Neil Young's “On The Beach.” It's also a showcase for Scaggs' pal Jack Walroth, who wrote or co-wrote four tracks — including “Rock and Stick,” on which he also plays harmonica.
“He moved out to San Francisco a long time ago, when I did,” Scaggs — who co-produced with Chris Tabarez and Michael Rodriguez — tells Billboard. “He comes from a similar musical background as myself.” For a time, in fact, Scaggs hosted weekly recording sessions for Walroth, from which “Rock and Stick” surfaced. “That song in particular always intrigued me because of the lyric,” explains Scaggs, who co-wrote the track “Little Miss Night and Day” with Walroth for the album. “I had the song musically in my head for some time and I actually sung it myself years ago on a demo. It's a regular 12-bar, bluesy kind of format that's got a little reggae thing to it that makes it unique. But it was the words that intrigued me, and I didn't really know what they meant.” It turned out that there was a final verse that Scaggs didn't have that, once provided by Walroth, cleared things up for him.
“It's complicated,” Scaggs says. “It sounds like it was a very rocky and complex relationship (the song) came out of, someone more than just a girlfriend, a relationship that was complex and painful sometimes. I have my own interpretation, but I think it opens itself up to others' experiences in a way a good song is supposed to.”
Recorded in Berkeley, Calif., Out Of The Blues features an all-star cast of players that includes guitarists Ray Parker Jr., Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton, as well as a rhythm section of Jim Keltner on drums and Willie Weeks on bass. Scaggs plays “some rhythm stuff” on guitar but notes that “I shy away from the instrument in that company” of other players.
Scaggs plans to tour throughout the year to promote Out Of The Blues, and he's satisfied that he's finished what they set out to do with the trilogy. “Over the last several years while this (trilogy) has come together I've been accumulating other music,” he says. “I've written more songs on my own. I have a little backlog of things I think will probably include in the next one or two projects. I have a couple in mind that are already started that include more of my own work and are going in a little different direction. I think (the trilogy) was a time and place and we'll keep it that way and move on to other things.”
Out Of The Blues Track List:
Rock and Stick
I've Just Got To Forget You
I've Just Got To Know
Little Miss Night and Day
On The Beach
Down In Virginia
The Feeling Is Gone