Review Summary: What's life? A magazine.....
A wise man once said in reference to the rap game that “this business is pop charts and who gets the top part” and it’s true, today’s artists are overwhelmingly more focused on producing material that will up their follower count than providing a message or some other more “noble” pursuit of the craft. And honestly, whatever right❓ Times change, tastes change, and people change. Tom Scott however, doesn’t care about his social media presence or his follower count nor does he present his product as some lofty example of hip-hop purity. In fact, near the end of the album he proclaims that he could “give a shit about being the best rapper” and I believe him. Avantdale Bowling Club
plays like a diary, with Scott’s thoughts and feelings throughout his own personal journey of growing up laid bare for the audience to experience and feel. What makes this premise so powerful is the authenticity of the presentation. There’s no pretense here, and Scott doesn’t care to exaggerate any part of his story to add any spice to the recipe. And the story isn’t extraordinary in the slightest, we’ve all heard dozens if not hundreds of coming-of-age tales in music in the past but rarely does one come off as earnest and believable as Avantdale Bowling Club
Part of the reason for this feeling is Scott’s approach to his narrative. While at many times somber, Avantdale Bowling Club
is never too maudlin. Scott isn’t seeking pity for his life, he seeks to illustrate it. Much like his regional contemporary Seth Sentry does with humor, Scott takes common, even banal moments and weaves them into reflective yarns thick with adolescent nostalgia and pensive soul searching. A jazz backdrop very reminiscent of To Pimp A Butterfly
era Kendrick Lamar adds to the overall mystique of Avantdale Bowling Club
. Stand-up bass and the distinctive timbre of a jazz snare dance with saxophones and trumpets throughout much of the album’s runtime, with Scott himself exhibiting an eerily cool and calm aura while delivering his bars. In songs like “Water (Medley)” and “Quincy’s March” Scott flexes his creative and technical prowess both as a rapper and musician. The songs proceed like a series of acts, with distinct endings embedded in the songs paving the way for complete tonal shifts both musically and in Scott’s adroit delivery. It’s a fantastic trick employed throughout the rest of Avantdale Bowling Club
as well that allows for Scott to fully realize his vision for each song.
Tom Scott’s diary concludes with an instrumental fade, but the listener doesn’t come away feeling icky for having read it, nor feeling sorry for the man because hell, if you haven’t personally gone through this tale you no doubt know someone who has. But Avantdale Bowling Club
isn’t about telling an amazing story, it’s about telling Scott’s story. And yes, some parts may go a little beyond “influenced” by TPAB but jazz rap is rarely executed with such finesse. Hopefully Scott himself found the making of this album as cathartic as it feels listening to it. Hell, imagine him playing it for his child as he falls asleep, now wouldn't that be coming full circle.