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Rod Picott – Starlight Tour Reviewed

Rod Picott – Photo: Neilson Hubbard

Rod Picott’s ‘Starlight Tour’

Out 2 February, 2024

By Rob Dickens

Rod Picott is prolific. Not quite Charley-Crockett-like prolific, but he has amassed a stellar catalogue since his debut. Fast forward twenty-three years, twelve albums, three books and we have the stellar Starlight Tour.

His blue-collar beginnings, the son of a hard-drinking welder, are a critical ingredient in the brilliant, descriptive and evocative stories contained in his songs. His past featured a restless and fractious youth, self-sufficiency and working construction until he arrived in Nashville where he turned down a record deal so he could forge his artistic path unfettered.

The new album was produced by Neilson Hubbard and released late last year in Europe and will be officially released in the USA on February 2. Hubbard is a renowned musician and filmmaker who has worked with icons such as Lucinda Williams and John Prine.

Picott’s writing on Starlight Tour is exemplary and razor-sharp. It’s hard to pick a favourite song, but there is none better than “Pelican Bay”, the wonder of watching pelicans dive for fish weaved with the vivid dramas that evoke that scene:

I was just out of the army not a boy not a man
Two tours out in the jungle of Viet goddamn nam
It scrambled something in my head
Left me shaking down inside In the place no one can see and stripped of my pride

I came home on a dc 10 changed my clothes in an airport stall
Kept my head down low they were spitting on us for answering the call
Made my way to Florida a greyhound bus to Pelican Bay
I met Mary in a diner on the ghost of my last pay

There’s so much reward in this album. Watching his father age in “Next In Line”, the beauty of hard work in the Dylanesque “Diggin’ Ditches”, the hypercritical fakeness in “Television Preacher”, the fall from grace in “The Homecoming Queen” and exposing the brutality in “Starlight Tour” (the term for the practice of the Saskatoon Police for driving drunk indigenous peoples out to the edge of town and leaving them there to die of hypothermia during the brutally cold winter months).

“I’m not reinventing the wheel. These songs have been sung before. But what I bring is detail only someone who has lived that blue-collar life can bring. I can tell you what it feels like to dig a metal burr from your fingertip with a utility knife; I can tell you how holding 110 pounds of sheetrock over your head day after day slowly crushes your shoulders. This is what I bring”

Rod Picott

Starlight Tour was recorded at Skinny Elephant Electric in Nashville with acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, piano, glockenspiel and trumpet by Juan Solorzano, bass, mandolin by Lex Price, acoustic guitar and vocals by Picott and drums and percussion from Hubbard

Rod Picott’s copious output may be due to a blue-collar work ethic. Whatever the reason, it in no way detracts from the sheer quality of his work and we are the better for his constant presence in our lives.

Starlight Tour Track List

Next Man In Line 4:05
Digging Ditches 2:43
Television Preacher 4:31
A Puncher’s Chance 4:42
Combine 4:26
Homecoming Queen 3:54
Starlight Tour 3:47
Wasteland 3:39
Pelican Bay 4:02
Time to Let Go of Your Dreams 3:31

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Rod Picott – Starlight Tour Reviewed

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Author: Rob Dickens

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