Say what you might about Scott Ramminger, a veteran saxophonist from D.C. who works in all manner of blues, soul and R&B styles: He’s not afraid to give the people what they want. When his second album, Advice From a Father to a Son, spooled off several tracks straight to satellite radio’s rootsier channels, he came back to New Orleans almost immediately and started cranking out more of the same. That includes guest spots from some of the city’s most venerated musicians: no less than George Porter Jr. on bass, David Torkanowsky on keys, and Shane Theriot on guitar, now assisting with 14 originals that cover so many of the city’s beloved subgenres that you half expect a Mardi Gras song to show up.
And it’s easy to see how Ramminger made it to Dad Radio in the first place. It’s always a mistake to assume too much about a musician based off the characters in his songs, but any profiler could come up with a composite sketch of his target audience: He’s middle-aged, loves New Orleans piano classics (“Living Too Fast”), soul-blues (“Off My Mind”), and maybe a little Americana. He’s perpetually in and out of love (“Someone New to Disappoint”), is wary of certain types of women (“Give a Pencil to a Fish”), sees himself as a bit of a bad boy (“It’s Hard to Be Me”) but is ultimately faithful. He’s getting old and trying to laugh about it (“I Need a New One”). He works hard (“Get Back Up”), parties less than he used to but way more than he should (“Too Fast” again), and yet usually gets what he wants.
Anyone could probably make an album with Johnny Vidacovich sitting in on drums and Bekka Bramlett and the McCrary Sisters singing backup and make it work, but Ramminger more than holds his own; his vocals are solid but unspectacular, but his sax work is first-rate. And his lyrics, while not quite as witty as they think they are, have emotional hooks the size of which you usually only find in classic country music. Occasionally he gets off something downright inspiring or poetic, and he has a countryish knack for the small, telling details (there’s not one but three songs about how bad food tastes after a breakup). Too bad Scott really has nothing more on his mind than finding a new way to revisit age-old musical tropes and emotional truths, but that’s really all radio asks for, anyway.