Much of the commentary about Darrell Scott’s career has focused on the songs he’s written that have been recorded by famous names and voices – those known in music industry parlance as “artists.” But then there’s the actual word artist, whose definition has nothing to do with radio hits and red carpets. We refer of course to those who create artifacts of aesthetic and intellectual contemplation and wonder, built from experience, skill, reflection and emotional intent. That’s an artist. And that, at the end of the day, is Darrell Scott. This is made abundantly clear on A Crooked Road, Scott’s sixth solo studio album. Recorded at home and entirely performed by Scott on a variety of instruments, A Crooked Road falls somewhere between a carefully crafted memoir and an arresting breach of privacy. From the deepest containers of memory, it recounts the bruises and blessings of 30 years of love relationships, stirring the heart with its intimacy and with the enthralling warmth and strength of Scott’s rare voice and musicianship. It is certainly the most introspective and intense project of Scott’s career, spilling over from one CD onto a second, and arranged as a journey with instrumental interludes and a sense of purpose that invites the listener to follow Scott along the crooked road of life, from romantic young man to drama king to lone poet. As for the music itself, longtime fans of Scott will find a lot that is familiar here: that soul-saturated voice, somewhere between Lowell George and James Taylor, the dazzling instrumental chops and the unfailing judgment about what makes a song sturdy enough to stand up to the wind and weather of time. The album opens with the title track, a simple tune that throws back a bit to the folk-pop of the early 1970s. It lays out the geography of the album to come. “I will sing a lonesome song to anyone who’ll listen,” he says, invoking the muse and inviting the kind of active attention the album merits. It’s a special album from a special time in the life of a special recording artist. Its hand-crafted feeling evokes the integrity and permanence of a well-made instrument or an expertly done painting. It may be more somber and vulnerable than Scott’s previous releases, but for that reason it has that much more emotional directness and power. It is truly a self-portrait of the artist as an older and wiser man.