Breezy Hill Records
12 songs/1 hour 5 minutes
Over the last 30 plus years with the rise of digital recording equipment, a high stakes battle between analog purists and digital futurists has been waged. It is fair to say that early digital equipment was terrible sounding; tinny and cold. That’s why it’s not surprising that Ernest Scott’s warm and inviting Bridging the Gap, recorded in the early 90’s, is proudly analog. The producers even chose to forego modern digital mastering, finishing off the record in analog.
Bridging the Gap is a smooth Louisiana R&B soul Blues album, more Earl King groove than Professor Longhair ruckus. This record was almost lost to time. The original tapes from the early 90’s were thought to be lost after Katrina. Producer/arranger/bassist David Hyde found the original mixes and pushed this record through production. The whole thing seems to be a labor of love; the labor was worth it because the love comes through the music.
Denham Springs, LA based Ernest Scott has a confident, silky smooth voice that wraps you up in a warm blanket of storytelling. “Breezy Hill,” written by executive producer Dan Tyler, is a down-home homage to country living, sitting on the front porch, playing with your baby and taking it easy. The acoustic guitars chug this song along with super chill electric piano. “Not too much sophistication,” but plenty of soul. Scott’s singing is so evocative that you feel like you are sharing a drink with him in his country paradise.
Straight up real deal Blues are abundant on this record. This being a Louisiana album, there are two Slim Harpo covers, “Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu” is a standout. Rudy Richard and James Johnson create a funky guitar latticework upon which Scott tartly questions if his baby is gonna be the star of the show. Scott’s cover of Buddy Guy’s medium tempo burner “A Man & The Blues” does not match the hollow rawness of the original. But, he puts a warm round lens on the song highlighting the BB King influence in Guy’s music.
Scott has a great delivery for sentimental ballads that can really express deep emotion and carry a slow tempo. The excellent duet with Irene Sage “Man Woman Thing,” written by Dan Tyler and Jeff Tweel, is a thoughtful declaration of how hard it is to keep a relationship popping. The horn arrangements on this song, and throughout this record, are elegant and perfectly matched to the music.
This is a soul record. If you forgot because you got caught up with all the swamp, blues and funk listen to the Al Green styled “Laughing Man.” Another penned by Dan Tyler, with help from J. Fred Knoblock, there is double meaning running through this clever song. A man who is laughing because he is not as hard as he was when he was younger is also the man with the seemingly insane laugh of a heart broken crazed former lover. The skittering rhythm guitar and straight up R&B sax solos drive home this excellent feel good workout with a twist.
It’s hard to credit all the various musicians on this album. There are 10 different guitarists, 4 different drummers, 4 different keyboardist and too many background singers to count. In spite of the changing personal there is a consistency in this record due to Scott’s strong vocals and the focused sense of purpose in production. This swampy gem is a masterpiece and we are lucky it survived the tragedy of Katrina. Suggestion: sit on your front porch, take it easy with your baby and listen to Bridging the Gap.