Richard Scott – Keeper of My Heart
“Keeper of My Heart”, the latest single release from respected vocalist and songwriter Richard Scott, finds this artist working near or at the height of his powers. Scott, a fixture on live stages across the country since the late 70’s, briefly left the music world in the early 21st century due to family concerns, but his recent return to activity finds his talents untouched by the passage of time. He brings together superior vocal abilities, melody, and a strong invocation of traditional country music that still sounds distinctly modern and accessible. There’s a lot you’re going to recognize about this song, it does work within long established formulas, but there’s also more than the spark of something signature in the way he approaches the familiar that will engage audiences both on the recording and in live performance.
The first version of the song has a strong blues influence experienced listeners will recognize from the start. “Keeper of My Heart”, in its first incarnation, comes with rollicking piano, discreet keyboard fills, strong rhythm section work, and occasional swaths of fiery guitar. Scott’s vocal strikingly contrasts with these elements – he sounds patient, takes his time developing the vocal melody, and phrasing the lyrical content in such a way that he never overplays the song’s emotional content and renders it cheap. Instead, it throbs in a low-key way with emotion from his first entrance into the song and hits a number of controlled heights throughout the song that raises the overall quality several notches. The piano playing, in particular, is the strongest musical element in this version and there’s some flashy moments that come along guaranteed to capture the audience’s attention without ever going overboard. Despite the abundance of competing musical elements, everything blends together here without weighing the song down as a whole and the arrangement is never too cluttered.
He picks the tempo up considerably with the song’s doo wop version, but it swings even harder than the first without ever sacrificing any of its final effects or nuance. The drumming and brass in this version more than makes up for the absence of guitar and Scott ramps up his vocals with joyful verve matching the musical energy without ever attempting to overcome it. The increased tempo is a big reason why this version is much shorter than the first, but the shorter running time actually strengthens the track overall without ever losing anything from the song’s value. Instead, it stresses the track’s fundamental strengths and engages the listeners in such a way that it will be difficult to keep your foot still or not start moving otherwise. This signals its clear commercial side, but Scott doesn’t give up anything substantive to manufacture that broad-based musical appeal. Richard Scott’s talents are in full evidence on both performances here and his seemingly effortless ability to connect with listeners ensures that this song will get the attention from critics and consumers that it richly deserves.