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David Scott with David Scott

SKY MEADOWS  •  The Pearlfishers

This came out in 2003, which should disqualify it for review, I suppose. But I feel that it is one of those special records that has been unfairly overlooked. Despite the avalanches of new releases that have poured through my door over the last two years (not to mention the records I've bought), I often return to Sky Meadows. It's definitely one of my Top 10 most listened-to albums.

A little background on the Pearlfishers. It's one guy, really. David Scott, appropriate to his name, is Scottish. He's obviously digested a lot of Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, and Todd Rundgren. He plays several instruments, sings in a voice that's as comfortable and warm as a favorite sweatshirt, and writes songs that are familiar but fresh. There's something Scottish about his music too. It has that elusive, misty mood--part wistful, part optimistic--that you can hear in Scottish bands past and present, from Danny Wilson to the Bluebells to Belle & Sebastian. Delicate and innocent in places, a little hard-bitten in others. Always highly tuneful.

The opening track, "Flora Belle," is an exalted piece of advice to a new baby daughter, presumably Scott's. Like a welcome wagon tour, it touts the "the highlands and the highways" and "the cabbage fields and orchards," finally singing, "go out on a limb." It's one of the least sentimental and most beautiful songs I've ever heard directed toward a child. "Todd is God" is a full-on tribute to Mr. Rundgren, complete with those slightly dissonant chord changes and counterpoint harmonies. "My Dad The Weatherfan" is another unsentimental but lovely song about family, in this case, Scott's father, who "always knows when the rains are due and isn't shocked when the sun breaks through." "Pantohorse" gallops like a big opening number for a Fifth Dimension stage show in Vegas. "I Can't Believe You Met Nancy" is non-stop jangling, Beatle-esque hooks. And "Swan Dreams" is a gorgeous glide of a tune, a whimsical look at a place "where swans are king and drive swan cars, or dive into the midnight moon."

This is the fourth album by the Pearlfishers (not counting eps and singles). The others are worth tracking down too, but this is David Scott's Pet Sounds. A celebration of youth, old age, family, love, nature, pop stars, fairgrounds, it's a record that stands outside of trends and makes a quiet but timeless statement. • Bill DeMain

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