New Country Debut (single) 2020
The unforgettably titled new single from Scott Holstein begins with a strum of an acoustic guitar that doubles as the tearing down of a gate for Holstein’s beautiful and effectual baritone to ride into the ether.
“Hillbilly Love” sounds like the singer/songwriter’s treatise on a life of productivity, generosity, and sensitivity. “They call it hillbilly love,” he declares with vocal thunder, “You can’t always win / but you can always do better.”
Like a great cultural ambassador from the Southern hills, he co-opts the derogatory term for his own edifying purpose: “When push comes to shove / Rise above / And show some hillbilly love.”
The song’s lyrical content is apolitical, and rather than public policy or electoral competitions, he makes Holstein focuses on the virtues of honesty, authenticity, compassion, and selflessness. At a time when there is particular focus on the errors and misdeeds of the American South, “Hillbilly Love” serves as a hopeful and necessary reminder that kindness, and as Holstein puts it, “a cultural evolution” can come in many forms from many different people. There is no monopoly on goodness.
Musically, “Hillbilly Love” is as inviting as its sentiment. Holstein sounds like Randy Travis, and with certain phrasing – Elvis Presley – as he leads an outstanding band, featuring the accents of excellent country-style guitar, through an instantly infectious, up tempo performance. No matter where you live, you can sing, dance, and raise a glass with “Hillbilly Love.”
-David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015
Scott Holstein’s twangy new single “Hillbilly Love” harkens back to the Outlaw Country movement spearheaded back in the ‘70s by Willie, Waylon and the boys. His grumbly baritone offers a wry shout-out to those forgotten folks whose “cultural evolution was written in the mountains and the stars.” Gritty electric guitars and keening lap steel, the song locks into a four-on-the-floor groove. Equal parts sincere and sardonic, it’s the perfect antidote to the Summertime blahs.
-Eleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco. I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.
I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.
I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver.
It would be easy to dismiss Scott Holstein’s latest single, “Hillbilly Love,” as just another country novelty song. That is until you hear it. With steady drumming and some telecaster twangs backing up Holstein’s unmistakably gruff baritone, the song starts midtempo and builds up quickly to a full on Bluegrass/Country barroom stomp. Lyrically, with the song - despite the gimmicky title and chorus – is surprisingly genuine and relatable regardless of where you grew up. Pride, love, passion and self-awareness are all crammed into a span of less than four-minutes; “It’s a state of mind, this hillbilly-ism, you’ve got to give it your all in the time you’re given… When push comes to shove, we’ll rise above and show some hillbilly love.”
The single marks a strong step forward, for the Nashville (by-way-of-West Virginia) musician, building on the music of his 2015 debut, Cold Coal Town. It’s not clear yet whether “Hillbilly Love” is a one-off single or a prelude teasing a follow up album. Regardless it’s an endearing song that only grows on you with repeat listens.
-John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.
Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine
With a smooth baritone voice and symphonic Telecaster twang, Scott Holstein has crafted the perfect anthem for music fans to break out of their quarantine blues. Turning his focus to the simple yet faithful devotion of hillbilly love, Holstein invites listeners into his world, one full of humor, friendship, and positive vibes. "Hillbilly love, you can't always win," he sings in the chorus, "But you can always do better." Harkening memories of the great Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings, Holstein gives fans a memorable track for the summer that will no doubt have them dancing around their living rooms as soon as the first strum hits their ears.
-Chuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.
“Hillbilly Love” is a Country Music song. Period. Contemporary Country radio stations play some great music these days but mostly, it ain’t Country. I’m always happy when I hear a real Country song and “Hillbilly Love” makes me very happy. It reminds me of classic Waylon and Hank (Sr.) and though it would fit into a Classic Country playlist, it would also work in today’s Country Music world. The uncomplicated lyrics celebrate a simple country lifestyle and above all, reminds us to share some ‘Hillbilly Love’!”
~ Ed Gertler - Digital Delivery Services
“Giving an amazing beat to the heart of Hillbilly Love, Scott Holstein evokes a great evolution for our culture found in the souls of our independent spirits who rise above it all to do better for their community. The potent simplicity found in perfectly-penned words that reflect the importance of faith, family and friends is solidly layered upon an uplifting musical track that reflects a future country anthem speaking to the human spirit of anyone who has the rhythm of the mountains coursing through their veins.” !
~ Randall Franks - Appalachian Artist / Actor
More Reviews to come....Summer 2020!
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