Grayson Capps’ ‘Scarlett Roses,’ is the acclaimed Alabama songwriter’s sixth studio album and his first solo release in six years. Throughout the collection, Capps showcases the kind of understated brilliance that can blossom when creativity is detached from expectation, when songs are truly given the space and time to find their writer.
“A lot of these songs came to me the way dreams do, where all these different bits and pieces from all these different parts of life come together,” he explains. “I would pick up the guitar and things would come to me naturally because I wasn’t actually trying to make a record.”
Capps wrote the album slowly and steadily after moving back to his home state with his partner, the Grammy Award-winning engineer/producer Trina Shoemaker. Recorded over the course of two whirlwind sessions, songs like “Taos,” “Bag Of Weed” and “Thankful” don’t shy away from tackling the heavy bur-dens of growing older: separation from loved ones, the weight of fatherhood, the mortality of our parents, self-medication. As serious as it may sound, Capps manages to write with an eye towards beauty and humor, extracting hard-won catharsis and even genuine joy from pain and loss.
“The songs on ‘Scarlett Roses’ really chronicle me discovering my position in the world,” says Capps. “It was a process that felt like gaining something and losing something at the same time.”
Hailed by NPR’s Mountain Stage for his “unbridled energy and authenticity,” Capps first emerged as a solo artist in 2005 following stints in the New Orleans thrash folk band the House Levelers, which he joined while still a student studying theater at Tulane, and his subsequent blues-rock group, Stavin’ Chain. His proper debut release under his own name, ‘If You Knew My Mind,’ earned rave reviews, with the New Orleans Times Picayune writing that “his character-based narratives are guaranteed to make you ache and exult,” and Exclaim! calling it “a Southern gothic tour de force.” Around this same time a handful of his songs would appear in the film, ‘A Love Song For Bobby Long,’ starring Scarlett Johans-son and John Travolta. After Hurricane Katrina forced Capps to relocate to Franklin, TN, he went on to release a string of similarly exalted albums that earned him devoted followings in both the US and Eu-rope. JamBase said his music “hums with quiet wisdom and unforced momentum,” while All Music said it was “filled with the bloody glory and taut acceptance of real life on the bottom,” and American Songwriter declared, “Take the poetry of Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt, combine with Steve Earle’s edgy atti-tude and stir with a little cup of the bayou-blues (think Howlin’ Wolf) and you start to get a taste of Capps’s scrumptious gothic gumbo.”