This is a big week for Hilary Scott, who released her new album, Freight Train Love, on Tuesday.
Wait a minute -- we know you're thinking. That's Hilary with one L. Though there will no doubt be some confusion with Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, the rising performer tells Billboard hat she has an emotional tie to the name.
"I chose my performance name back in 1999 or 2000 when my brother passed away. His name was Scott. That was before I recorded my first album. By the time I started hearing about Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, I had already had a couple of albums out under that name and had a website going. It was a tough call for me because the name means something to me both professionally and personally. At this point, I think it would be very difficult to completely change," she says, admitting that she isn't for sure what the future will hold for her in that regard. "I do fear that if I gain some more publicity, it could become more confusing."
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Stylistically, Scott does set herself apart with more of a bluesy lean, thanks to influences such as Bonnie Raitt and Patty Griffin. What does she call her music? "At this point, I've been calling it Americana, because I feel like it's such a big umbrella," she said. "It didn't used to be. I feel it used to be a little bit narrowly focused on music that wasn't quite country but had that flavor. I think some of my stuff has it, but there's all kinds of influences in there. That's one of my favorite things about this record. You can put it under the Americana umbrella, I think, but I think that a lot of different genres are reflected song by song on the record."
One of the highlights from the album is the evocative "Whiskey Bottle Dry," which Scott says marks a departure for her as a writer. "That has become my favorite on the record. I co-wrote that one with Michael O'Neill. We wrote it as a dark look at relationships. One of the things that Patty Griffin does that I have tried to challenge myself more to do, is write from a perspective that might not be that comfortable to me. That song has a certain masculinity to it where I'm the one drinking. A lot of times, we're not comfortable with the woman being the one falling on hard times. I'm comfortable doing that, but I think for listeners, it's new. I am overtaken by the emotion of the song."
Writing from a second-person prerogative is something the singer-songwriter has taken some time to warm up to. "That is somewhat of a more recent development because I used to be pretty autobiographical," she says. "That has changed over the past few years. I used to write a lot of prose and poetry, but I wasn't allowing myself to put that in my songwriting. If it is a more fictional song, I feel like now I'm able to get out of my own way, and focus on the craft and art of songwriting more."
The Washington state native gave one song the cover treatment on her disc: Nicolette Larson's 1978 hit "Lotta Love," though she gave it a slightly different sound. "I had heard the Nicolette Larson song many times, and remembered it very well. I had never really listened to many versions of it -- including the Neil Young version -- because I usually try to ask myself what the song is telling me. I just thought it was more soulful. It had more of a soulful/Stax feel on it, and we got to work with Bob Glaub on it, who played on the original. So that was really neat."
Scott's voice can also be heard on a YouTube video to raise awareness for animal rescues, something she is quite passionate about. "It was an amazing series of coincidences. Actually, my mother was on Facebook, and that video came up on on her feed. She was listening to it, and she wasn't believing what she was hearing, because it was my voice. She posted on Facebook and asked me if I knew the song had about a million views. One of my friends found Annie Hart, he creator of the video, I got a hold of her. I told her I loved dogs, and was a big advocate for animal rescue – especially pit bulls, which I think are misunderstood, and wanted to be part of it. We'll probably work on some projects together in the future to continue help animals, which is very exciting to me."
Upcoming tour dates for Hilary Scott:
Nov. 21 - Moscow, Idaho, John's Alley
Nov. 22 - Winthrop, Wash., Old Schoolhouse Brewery
Nov. 28 - Bellinghamn, Wash., The Green Frog
Nov. 29 - Gig Harbor, Wash., Morso