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David Serby rocks

December 27, 2013

David Serby is best known for his Los Angeles colored roots music, which always includes plenty of tasty country elements. With his new band, The Latest Scam, however, Serby explores more of a rock & roll vibe. And naturally, music aficionados want to know why he’s made this stylistic change.

“When I was writing “Poor Man’s Poem” [Serby’s most recent full-length], that was a very specific, concentrated project,” Serby recalls. “All the songs had to go together and it was this historical thing; it was trying to look at the world of today through that prism. I had written “Poor Man’s Poem,” the title track, and I had gotten it into my head that that was the best song I was ever going to write in my life, and I would never even be able to finish this record because I couldn’t come up with anything that good. I think I wrote “Rumor of Our Own,” which is one of the more country songs on this record, and I might have written “Waiting out the Storm.” They were just sitting there, and when I was done with [the album] “Poor Man’s Poem,” I kind of went back and revisited those songs. I thought, ‘It might be kind of cool to do more of a rock & roll record.’ I had happened to be listening to a lot of Rockpile, and Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds at the time and so I said, ‘Let’s see if we can pull this off.’

The result is not just a fine rock & roll album but — rarity of rarities — an honest to goodness double-CD, too.

“I like the idea of doing a double-CD,” he explains, “because when I was a kid I loved records, and nobody does double anything anymore because you can fit so much content on one CD. Certainly, I could have put all those songs on one CD; it’s a little under an hour’s worth of material.” Some of Serby’s reasoning might also have more than a little to do with nostalgia, as well. “Some of my favorite records, that I have on CD, were initially released as double records, like “Exile On Main St.,” “London Calling,” or things like that.

The Nick Lowe connection to this project goes even deeper than its sound because the band’s name was inspired by a lyric to the Lowe song, “Half a Boy and Half a Man.” “I was looking for a phrase in a Nick Lowe or Rockpile or Dave Edmunds song that would be a good name for a band,” Serby explains. “I heard that and that name worked on that level, but also I thought that being a musician is a little bit half a boy and half a man. It is kind of a racket. You’ve figured out a way to get paid a little bit and have fun. It is a little bit of a scam. It also worked that I’m cluing people in that this is going to be different. It’s not going to be historical folk music like last time, or even honky-tonk. “

Serby is so consistently good that even when he has the nerve to call his group The Latest Scam, you don’t at all feel cheated in any way. Instead, he’s just having a little fun with his music and image. Think of this as an unexpected wrinkle in the ever-evolving tapestry that is David Serby’s continually expanding style.

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Roots and Branches reviews David Serby and The Latest Scam

Roots and Branches / The Beat

Playing catchy roots rock with an at times uncanny resemblance to an American Gerry Colvin, Serby’s a California singer-songwriter with a strong pop sensibility and a clear awareness of the power of ringing guitar that should appeal to those with the likes of the dBs, Matthew Sweet and early Tom Petty in their collection.

The cheery summery pop and chiming guitars of True Love kicks off a double CD set that puts the emphasis on the uptempo, the likes of a chugging Amnesia, 60s beat pop flavoured When Couples Fall In Love, and Creedence tinted rockabilly rolling Waiting Out The Storm and the tumbling Do I Still Need To Worry? particular highlights of the first disc. The second disc (which, coloured blue with the first red, suggests he may have a bit of a Beatles affection) has more of a twangy country flavour with Rumor Of Our Own ,nodding to George and Merle Everybody Loves A Fool evoking Buck Owens (via Dwight Yoakam) and country blues strutter Pretty Little Kitty borrowing the riff to Pretty Woman while Better With My Hands is a Willie Nelson honky tonk weepies and Gospel Truth, Tumbleweed Blacktop Blues and Like She Was Never Here all sound like vintage Dave Edmunds. It doesn’t turn over any new ground but it makes strolling down familiar paths well worth the journey.

Mike Davies

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Music Morsels Reviews David Serby and The Latest Scam

Nice review here from Music Morsels. Thanks, MW!

Music Morsels Reviews

David Serby & the Latest Scam

California singer-songwriter steers a bit more in the roots rocking direction with this double CD effort. A higher energy level is evident right from the first snappy guitar hooks of “True Love,” although the Americana/folk feeling is still felt in the overall vibe here. There is a pop sensibility to the music; “Waiting Out the Storm” has the feel of a crossover hit, but David avoids being what I would called commercial country or rock with the right type of edginess primarily from a retro feel with both the rock and country influences. This is sort of a comfortable mid-ground between the rock of Tom Petty, the country of Dwight Yoakim, and maybe just the right amount of rockabilly intensity. While most of the songs are uptempo, for those who loved David’s mellower-folksy side, there are tracks such as the honest crooning of “I’ll Meet You There” and the sweetly emotive “Better With My Hands” to whet your appetites. David has one of those voices that is excellent in its subtleties – he doesn’t have to push the envelope or over-sing to convey his feelings with his natural pipes. The musicianship is tight and has enough high-end talent to make you notice within the confines of even the strongest songs. This is just a collection of good rock/country/Americana hybrids that, while not being ground-breaking by any means, is still very enjoyable because it seems like David and his cohorts had fun making this music, and they allow you to experience that fun with the way they transpose it into their own tunes. – MW

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