An old soul with a young spirit … a dreamer who imagined himself following his father's path to Nashville … a man's man with a lifelong love for hunting and country music … and a heartthrob whose wide smile and deep-voiced Louisiana drawl have already turned many a woman's head.
Even in the tide of hopeful young singers rising daily in Music City, Dylan Scott stands out. It takes just a few seconds to hear why: after Scott's vocal begins on his single "Crazy Over Me," intimate, even conversational, and then soars on a rush of buoyant emotion, you know something special is underway.
Not just the single, mind you -- we're talking about a career. Dylan Scott's respect for traditional country, embrace of multiple modern genres, unique voice and welcoming personality guarantee his success in country music for years to come.
Everything that defines Dylan Scott lies in rural northeastern Louisiana, about 15 minutes from Bastrop, the nearest small town. "Growing up in the country is part of my music," he says. "There were woods near our house. I grew up duck hunting and deer hunting. I went fishing and I played ball. That's just what we did and who we were."
What made Scott different was that his father was often out of town and on the road, playing guitar behind Freddy Fender, Freddie Hart, and other country stars. Young Dylan listened attentively to stories of Dad's adventures on the road and in Nashville, which took shape in his imagination as a kind of Emerald City beyond the horizon.
"From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to go there," Scott says. "Even in elementary school, that's all I thought about. I never thought, 'Gee, I'd like to be a police officer' or whatever. There was always this understanding that someday, somehow, I would go to Nashville."
He first saw Music City when he was about 15 years old. "My dad brought me up here with one of his buddies," he recalls. "We looked at Music Row and the Ryman. My dad showed me an alleyway where he had to sleep in his truck one night. He introduced me to the guy who became my manager and still is. It was really fascinating and intimidating at the same time."
Right out of high school, Scott made the move. He arrived restless to perform but a little naive. "I didn't know people wrote songs up here," he admits, with a smile. "So I started writing as well. In fact, I got so into writing that I kind of forgot about performing for a while. It actually wasn't until maybe three years ago that I started doing country gigs with a band in Nashville."
Just before turning 19, Scott accepted a contract from Curb Records and began recording. From the start, his most important mentor was and continues to be Jim Ed Norman, the distinguished producer, record label executive and current Chief Creative Advisor for Curb. "You name it, Jim Ed has done it," Scott insists. "When you're making records, it's about creativity and how you feel and how much fun you're having. And along with his background, he brings a lot of fun to it because he loves making records, and I love making records with him."
As they worked on various studio projects, Scott returned to his initial passion for performance. He put together an unusual "band of brothers," consisting of his brother Logan on lead guitar and two other siblings, Garrett and Darrick Cline, on bass and drums, respectively. The communication they share is at least as important as their rock-solid musicianship. In fact, Scott invited Garrett to join the group before he'd heard him play or even met him in person.
"I checked him out on Facebook but I never saw him play on a video or in person," Scott says. "But I called him on the phone and I just liked his attitude and the way he talked so much that I told him, 'I want you in my band!' I mentioned then that I needed a drummer and Garrett told me about his brother, so I hired him too! And they're both phenomenal. I don't know how I got so lucky."
These were the guys that went into the studio to record Scott's upcoming album. Norman was again in the production chair, but for the first time a second chair was pulled up next to his. "I've got my roommate, Matt Alderman, producing with Jim Ed," Scott says. "Where Jim Ed has this great experience, Matt has this fire inside of him. It was a great dynamic. Everyone worked really well together."
Another detail distinguishes Scott's upcoming album from most new releases coming out of Nashville. Despite -- actually, because of -- his band's unity as players and friends, they decided to layer parts individually over the basic tracks, with Norman, Alderman and Scott then putting it all together like perfectly matched puzzle pieces. This is something of a throwback approach, with so many artists now recording their backup parts live. But for Scott, it made total sense to explore this path.
"We started with Garrett and Darrick," he says. "Then my little brother Logan came in and recorded his parts. We brought in a couple of studio guys who are really, really good, to spike it up a little after that. But it all worked. I'd always heard stories, growing up, about how it was to make records back in the old days. They'd stay up sometimes to 1 AM, hanging out with their buddies and adding to the music. Now we're doing it -- and it's awesome.”
"It's the most creative way to make a record that doesn't sound like everyone else's music," he elaborates. "It's like building a house. You can get a bunch of people together and throw it up at one time. Or you can have a small group craft every detail exactly how you want it."
The single "Crazy Over Me" proves that the experiment paid off. Written by Scott and Alderman, the song was road-tested along with other original material before being approved for the album. "The first time we played that song live, everyone stopped what they were doing and just watched, listened and smiled. When we got to the end of the first chorus, people started cheering. I'd never experienced anything like that. Yeah, I'd experienced people dancing and having a good time, but not cheering on the turnaround after the first chorus. That was when I knew we had to record this."
That's only the beginning. Scott's vocal on "My Girl" spans a vast range of expression, with its near-whispered verses, the almost inaudible "yeah" in describing his love, the intensity of the choruses and a spoken-word interlude that recalls both classic country recitations and modern hip-hop. On "Give Me More," he flavors his romantic plea with an R&B soulfulness that builds even as the backup tracks nearly dissolve, leaving Scott's voice in full command on its own.
"We throw a lot of elements into these songs, just like we do in our show," he explains. "Our show is very diverse: we come out rockin', then we might do some really old-school country stuff and then some hip-hop or something that's cool on the radio now. One of the biggest compliments I can think of is when people come up to me after the show and go, 'Man, I'm not really a country music fan, but that was awesome! I even liked the country/country stuff you did.'"
Scott laughs, with a honeyed hint of the Louisiana backwoods. "It would be nice to have a No. 1 come out of this," he concedes. "But I'd love to make some noise and build the fan base level by level, just like we made this album. I'm still just 24 years old, you know. I don't want to take two steps forward and one step back. I just want to climb, one step at a time."
Dylan Scott's next big step is just around the corner. Stand by … there's much more to come.