Dylan Scott is taking fans back to his roots on his new EP An Old Memory, which pays tribute to the late Keith Whitley. Releasing August 16 from Curb Records, the new collection includes such Whitley classics as “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “I’m Over You,” “When You Say Nothing at All,” “Ten Feet Away” and “Miami, My Amy.”
Scott recorded the album in Nashville’s famed Sound Emporium Studio, the same studio Whitley recorded in, and used many of the same musicians who recorded with Whitley. Scott introduced the project to the press and music industry executives with a listening party at the studio on July 29.
“I was born in 1990, so he had already died,” Scott says of Whitley, who passed away May 9, 1989 from alcohol poisoning at age 33. “When I was a kid I would ride around with my dad. He had a single cab Toyota pickup truck and he had a cassette tape and that’s what we’d listen to. I was riding gravel roads with my dad at six or seven-years old playing Keith Whitley songs on the cassette player. That was my very first memory of Keith Whitley and it was his voice that just captivated me.”
Growing up in Bastrop, LA, Scott developed an appreciation for traditional country music from his father Scotty Robinson, who played guitar in Freddy Fender and Freddie Hart’s band. “I tried to do exactly what Keith Whitley did and my dad would come in and say, ‘Hey, you are trying to be Keith Whitley, which there is nothing wrong with that, but you’ve got to be yourself.’ My dad critiqued me quite a bit.”
Yet it was his love for Whitley’s music that helped the aspiring artist earn his record deal. “We started coming to town when I was 15 or 16-years-old,” says Scott, who began co-writing with songwriter Charlie Craig very early on. “When I found out Charlie wrote ‘Between An Old Memory and Me,’ I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I was writing with this guy and he co-wrote a song that Keith sang. We were going in the studio when I was 16 or 17 and we recorded a demo of ‘Between An Old Memory and Me.’ We shopped that demo around and it got me my manager Howard Fields, who I’m still with. Howard took that demo to the labels and I landed at Curb Record where I’ve been since I was 19-years-old, almost 10 years.”
“Between an Old Memory and Me” is Scott’s favorite Whitley song and was a natural choice for the title of the EP. “When I moved to Nashville, I wanted to be the next Keith Whitley,” Scott says. “He was Elvis to me. That’s what Keith Whitley was to me. I may not have moved to Nashville. I may not be sitting here and done any of this if it wasn’t for him, so it’s basically to keep his legacy going and a thank you to him for his music and just him being him.”
Scott recorded the tribute album at Sound Emporium in April and was surprised to find out the dates he was recording were actually the same dates that Whitley had last recorded there. “It wasn’t planned. We had no idea,” Scott says. “There are some log books. We started looking through them and the same week in April that we were doing this session was the same week Keith was in here doing one of his last sessions.”
Produced by Jim Ed Norman, Matt Alderman, and Curt Gibbs, the project features some of the same musicians who had worked with Whitley—Mac McAnally, Eddie Bayers and Carl Jackson—as well as Scott’s dad who is playing guitar. The EP also features Lorrie Morgan, who was married to Whitley at the time of his death, singing with Scott on “Tell Lorrie I Love Her.”
Bayers, a legendary drummer in Nashville, enjoyed working on the project with Scott and had high praise for the young artist. “It was full circle for me,” Bayers tell Sounds Like Nashville of recording at Sound Emporium where he used to make records with Whitley. “There are a lot of artists who want to pay tribute to the inspirations they have, but I’ve never seen one rise up to the occasion like Dylan did.”
The new project definitely shows a more traditional side to Scott’s artistry. “One of the purposes of this whole deal was to show people, ‘Hey, I grew up on this stuff. It’s real and real life,’” says Scott, who was among the performers at the May 9th tribute concert to Whitley in Nashville at the CMA Theater. “I’ll sit down and do some old school country music all day long, so I think we’re getting that point across and it’s cool to see the fan’s response so far. They are loving it.”
Scott’s live shows include his chart-topping hit “My Girl” and his current single, “Nothing to do Town,” but every show also includes a Keith Whitley song, and with his new EP, he’s happy to further shine a light on his musical hero.
“The reason we are doing this project is a thank you to Keith Whitley,” he says. “Without him, maybe I wouldn’t have moved to Nashville or wouldn’t have learned guitar. I wanted to thank him for that, and I just wanted to spread the word. For somebody who doesn’t know Keith Whitley, check his music out—the melodies, the lyrics, just the tone of his voice is great. When people ask me, ‘Hey dude, what’s your definition of country music?’ I always say, ‘Keith Whitley!’ He is country music to me, so I want people to know his music.”