Boz Scaggs: A Fool to Care

A delightful journey of songs through musical decades and styles, all delivered in Scaggs' soulful tenor.

Boz Scaggs

A Fool to Care

Label: 429
US Release Date: 2015-03-31
UK Release Date: 2015-03-30
Label website
Artist website

Boz Scaggs opens his new album with a cover of "Rich Woman", written by Dorothy LaBostrie and McKinley Millet and first recorded by Li'l Millet and the Creoles in 1955. "I got a woman with plenty of money / She got the money and I got the honey," Scaggs sings in his warm tenor that gets a touch of funk in its delivery here. These sex-coded lines are a bit rascally for a musician whose career began with a solo album in 1965 and who is now 70 years of age -- hard to believe! But Boz is making music that's ageless. And that honey that he's bringing oozes right out of his soulful voice and magical delivery.

Scaggs has stated that A Fool to Care might serve as the second album of a trilogy, following his critically acclaimed Memphis that appeared in 2013. What unites the two albums is that Scaggs worked again with producer and acclaimed drummer Steve Jordan, as well as a core band of studio musicians: Ray Parker, Jr., Willie Weeks, and Jim Cox. A Fool to Care was recorded in four days in Nashville, and some of that city's talent showed up to sit in on individual songs. Most notably, Bonnie Raitt plays slide guitar and duets with Scaggs on "Hell to Pay", the one song written by Scaggs and a highlight on the album. "Hell to Pay" sounds more alt-country and Americana than smooth soul, which is true likewise for the cover of the Band's classic "Whispering Pines", which Scaggs sings here with Lucinda Williams.

The highlights for me on A Fool to Care are the two songs written for the album by Scaggs' old friend from San Francisco, Jack "Applejack" Walroth, an experienced freelance singer, musician, and songwriter. "I Want to See You" and "Last Tango on 16th Street" are, at their core, sophisticated blues songs with jazz and Latin elements. They fit perfectly with Scaggs' vocalization. One great pleasure that comes from listening to this album are the choices that Scaggs made in songs to cover, songs from R&B, soul, and country, any of which might pick up rhythms from jazz or Cajun music. He said in an interview that the album's genesis came from his desire to re-make some of the music that has inspired him, and it's a testament to his wide range that he dips back to the 1960s for a gorgeous version of the Impressions' "I'm So Proud", to the 1950s with "Rich Woman" and Huey Smith's "High Blood Pressure", and clear back to 1940 with Ted Daffan's famous "I'm a Fool to Care". The 1970s form the core of the covers, with the aforementioned "Whispering Pines", Bobby Charles' "Small Town Talk", Al Green's "Full of Fire", and the Spinners' "Love Don't Love Nobody". Despite the variety of genres and styles, Scaggs transforms each song into something unmistakably his own while honoring the original.

Scaggs is no longer writing songs as memorable as his hits from Silk Degrees (1976), songs such as "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle". If you're young, do know that Boz and his great songs were then an icon of coolness and blue-eyed soul. It's nearly 40 years later, and the icon has aged, not gone away. He's still singing other people's songs with that effortless voice that conveys deep emotion. "I'm at a point where I'm having a lot of fun with music, more than ever", Scaggs has said about A Fool to Care. "It's like I'm just going wherever I want to go with it." The same could be said about listening to him; I can hardly overstate how much fun it is to play this album and be transported through decades and musical styles.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.