Scott Tournet, 'Rock & Roll Stories' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Scott Tournet, 'Rock & Roll Stories'

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Published August 30, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.


Scott Tournet, Rock & Roll Stories - COURTESY
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  • Scott Tournet, Rock & Roll Stories

(Self-released, CD, digital)

Guitarist Scott Tournet has an on-again, off-again relationship with rock and roll.

Raised on a dirt road in rural Vermont in a house with no electricity, Tournet didn't start playing the guitar until he attended college. At Goddard College in Plainfield, he took up the art of rock with gusto, studying at the altar of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. Not long after, he met drummer Matt Burr and singer-songwriter Grace Potter, and the three musicians formed Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

The band became one of the most successful Vermont musical exports, but that success wore on Tournet, who found playing football stadiums and making TV appearances tiresome. He quit the band he'd helped start and delved into Afrobeat and experimental and Latin jazz, forming the band Elektric Voodoo.

Now living back east after leaving California with his wife and kids, Tournet has decided to reengage with his inner rocker, picking his guitar back up for Rock & Roll Stories.

"Cadillac" kicks things off. Avoiding the cliché of making an album like this all about himself, Tournet tells the story of two teen lovers stealing a car to leave their hometown. It's a good thematic place for the record to launch: rebellious youth ripping off an American institution to hit the road.

"Cadillac" and the subsequent track, "Fever," show a lot of Black Keys influence, both in the songwriting and the fuzzed-out guitar hooks. Which makes sense, as Tournet spent time writing with the Black Keys' front man, Dan Auerbach. While he clearly picked up some useful tricks of the trade from Auerbach, certain songs on Rock & Roll Stories give a sense of following an already-paved road.

Things get much more interesting on "8654321." Tournet wrote the song after seeing the ultrasound for his soon-to-arrive daughter, Lucy Violet. After the doctor told him and his wife that their daughter's heart rate was 142 beats per minute, Tournet programmed a drum loop at the same speed and composed a song from the perspective of his child, still in the womb. It could easily have come across as cheesy, but Tournet keeps the song driving hard, laying down some ferocious guitar solos.

Publicity materials describe the record as Tournet's return to the guitar-rock roots of his days in the Nocturnals. That's somewhat accurate — surely, a song such as "Holy Roller" would have slotted nicely into any of the early Nocturnals albums. But that characterization doesn't take into account the more eclectic influences that have since entered Tournet's sound. The production of Rock & Roll Stories is more pop than rock, with crisp, sometimes programmed beats and highly processed vocals.

That's not to say there aren't moments when the album puts its foot to the accelerator and things get properly rocking. But Tournet has lived a lot since his time in the Nocturnals, and the album reflects that living, much to its benefit.

Rock & Roll Stories is available now on all major streaming platforms.

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