On a most excellent night of music at Sam’s Saloon, Tad Armstrong and his cohorts celebrated the release of Scorpio Falling, his first-ever solo album. As a longtime Armstrong fan, I was surprised that this was his first true solo record; his songwriting has such a heavy stamp on Middletown and His Righteous Fold records.
The badge “singer-songwriter” has been so overused that it has become an easy way to describe any girl-with-a guitar coffeehouse singer. Yet, it is hard to describe Armstrong in any other way. He’s got the singer part nailed: Armstrong has one of the best and most expressive voices of any singer I’ve heard. And he’s a songwriter in the tradition of Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson and Nick Drake. His songs are introspective and personal, yet you can relate to them, often wondering if Armstrong was peering over the wall of your own life.
Armstrong — alternating between keyboard and guitar — gathered a cream-of-the crop band for his solo coming-out show. Bloomington’s David England played amazing guitar and harmonized beautifully and John Byrne played swooning good pedal steel and guitar. Matt Wilson and Adam White did double duty; after opening the show with their band ESW, they stuck around to back Armstrong on bass and drums.
I’ve said before that if I could only hear one musician for the rest of my life it would be Armstrong, and this show reminded me why.