Up to Scratch
Guthrie Kennard, Rick Babb, and James Michael Taylor are local singer-songwriters who sometimes perform as a trio called Buddies. Mostly, though, they blaze individual musical trails
The trio member with the lowest profile is the quiet and reserved Babb. His debut album, Startin’ From Scratch, is a remarkable collection of songs that veer effortlessly from country to pop, blues to bluegrass, jazz to gospel.
Any talented songwriter in his 60s has had a lifetime to hone his craft and compile a notebook of good songs.
Babb trots out his best efforts, mostly leaning toward the country genre. His songs describe everyday people
and their lives and often come across like parables set to music. Babb’s soft but appealing voice won’t land
him a spot in any opera troupes, but it fits perfectly here. His chord progressions often zig when you think
they’ll zag, but they’re never random. Everything fits together just right, and it’s a pleasure to drift along on
his musical trip. Meanwhile, the studio production and eclectic instrumentation by Milo Deering provide the
perfect pillow on which to nestle these songs, and Becky Middleton offers up amazing background vocals.
Whether Babb is pining away in a gorgeous tearjerker like “Willin’ To Go,” cutting up in funny songs like “Picky Picky” and “Roly Poly,” or getting jiggy in “Lucky In Love,” he owns this album. You should too. In the meantime, catch him at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St., Dallas.
–– Jeff Prince
Posted August 14, 2013 by HEARSAY in Music, Ft Worth Weekly
"Native Texan Rick Babb definitely qualifies as a musical vagabound. You can tell that with just one listen to his latest album. You will hear some Country, yet also Babb weaves a musical canvas that also includes shades of Pop, Folk, and even a little bit of old school Blues and Jazz. The eclectic mix makes him a sure-fire candidate for airplay on Americana stations, should he decide to make that push. If they didn’t pick up on his stylings, they would be the ones who are missing out.
The album commences with the haunting strains of “Wonderful Mystery,” which brings to mind the weariness that Haggard so often exudes in his work. He continues that sound in the second cut, “Willin’ To Go,” where the lead character realizes that some things are not forever. Babb maintains a melancholy feel in the song, which works well. Other highlights on the album include the light and easy sounds of “Friday Night Date,” which has a certain New Orleans- jazz feel to it in parts, as well as the Bluegrass-ish “Lucky In Love.” For my money, he soars highest on “Do You Really Wanna Go,” a tune that brings to mind some of the top love ballads on AM Radio in the early 1970s – featuring some tight harmony work from Becky Middleton and the alluring “Picky Picky.” The latter was one of those cuts that had me scratching my head somewhat – the first time, but the more you listen to it, the more he draws you in – just like with any great artist. An album well worth checking out!"
Nashville Music News, June 15, 2013
Abundance: Rick Babb's Startin' From Scratch
“Lord knows I don’t deserve such a wonderful thing …wonderful mystery …” starts the album from scratch. Scratch, like chickens who stir up larval dirt to sustain their chicken lives in abundance. “I bet you thought I’d never leave …this sleepy town … now I’m willing to go …” to where that “… dang, dang livin’ thing’s got me once again….” So glad “… I got lucky in love!” That’s abundance!
Produced by Milo Deering, with shapely attention to every sound and respect for each silence.
“Changed like a bolt of lightning just passed through you …he was changed …”. Everything is new and the music is what brings you in. Church organ, add pure humble mando, add fiddle, brilliant set-up for the story (that’s Milo too) and then we get the choir. The sounds are statements, not stylistic crutches, and everything is on purpose. Rick has assembled an abundance of musicians who support each composed idea. JamesMichael Taylor “… I hear your voice in the distance …,” your song equally served by production and delivery.
And you can dance to it, “… with my favorite girl on a Friday night date.” Country wit and uptown prosody are in the music itself and each story. The songs are a thread of human experience humble, amused and grateful. No false starts or cold numbers. No logs piled one on the last. The songs are fresh and inviting to singers and dreamers. Rick Babb has a unique voice, well used. Startin’From Scratch is full of solid, uplifting Americana songs. I listen to it again and again.
Folk DJs: You might start with “Picky Picky,” “Friday Night Date,” or “Dang, Dang,” but I truly recommend the whole album. JMP
Jenni Mansfield Peal, Everybody’s Folk KNON 89.3 FMDallas
July 31, 2013 at 3:01pm