Review of Darrell Scott’s Ten Songs of Bullington

‘Ten Songs of Ben Bullington’ is a folk album that depicts a sincere man, his instruments, and the songs and stories of a departed friend. The man is Kentucky-born multi-instrumentalist, Darrell Scott, who is famed for his country records and poetic charm.

Ten Songs of Ben Bullington is a somber compilation of songs that were written by the late Ben Bullington, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer aged only 58 in November 2013.

Ben Bullington, an amateur songwriter and a small town doctor, and Darrel Scott, a songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist met in 2011, not as musicians, but, unfortunately, as recently divorced fathers camping with their progeny in Yellowstone National Park. They struck off and became good friends. Their friendship strengthened in the two years. But all this time Ben Bullington was suffering from cancer.

In 2012, Ben Bullington’s prognosis seemed grim. He then decided to share his songs with Darrel Scott. Darrel Scott, a seasoned Nashville session man who had a number of hits and co-writes to his name, was struck with the quality, honesty, and warm-heartedness of his friend’s well-structured folk songs.

In 2013 an idea sprouted in his mind: he could record a cover album of his friend’s material. Therefore, during Ben Bullington’s final months, Darrell rearranged several songs, recorded demos on his iPhone, and sent them to his friend, Bullington.

Many people do not know Bullington, but after listening to Darrel Scott’s rendition of Bullington’s ten songs, listeners will no doubt love the simplicity and honesty of this songwriter’s work. Ten Songs by Ben Bullington opens with the song ‘The One I’m Still Thinking About’ being played on Bullington’s own guitar. Bullington writes this song for a lover that he promises will remain in his mind until his last day.

In the song ‘Born in ’55’, Darrell Scott puts aside his guitar and enthralls just with his piano percussion that perfectly captures the melancholic words mourning the death of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers.

The song ‘Country Music I’m Talking to You’, in contrast, is an acerbic rendition recorded in Texas that questions country music for not supporting Dixie Chicks after airing their concerns on the war in Iraq. The confrontational and rugged tone of the song coupled with the coarse guitar accompaniment encapsulates the disillusionment that Bullington and many people around the world felt about the same.

The final track named ‘I’ve Got to Leave You Now’ was sent to Bullington in his last three months by Darrel Scott who had recorded it in his iPhone. The song distils a sense of reassurance and calmness as Bullington’s lyrics, which are fatherly admonitions to his three sons, asks each of them to live their lives with a purpose. It is surprising that Bullington had recorded the track on his final album, the fifth one, long before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, to which he would later succumb. Another song that eerily forecasts his demise is the song ‘The Last Adios’. Scott flawlessly captures the essence and melancholy of all Ben Bullington’s songs. The album leaves you mourning a man you’ve just been introduced to. It is definitely one of the best folk song compilations.

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