Circle Round the Signs

Circle Round the Signs

by Al ScorchAl Scorch


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Al Scorch lives and makes music in Chicago, and the soul of the city echoes all through his second studio album, 2016's Circle Round the Signs. If Scorch's music is often rooted in the sounds of the past, with acoustic instruments dominating the arrangements, Circle Round the Signs feels like the long-lost soundtrack to Carl Sandburg's poetic celebration of the City of the Big Shoulders, with a dash of Nelson Algren for seasoning. Scorch's instrument is the banjo, and he attacks his instrument with a mixture of virtuoso technique and creative violence, bringing a decidedly big-city sound to an instrument usually associated with rural music forms. Scorch's band features clarinet, cello, and violin along with bass and drums, and while the arrangements nod to jazz and folk, they approach this music with the passion and force of a crack rock & roll band. Scorch's songs walk a tightrope between the past and the present day, as the bootlegger's tale of "Everybody Out" echoes modern-day violence in the Windy City, and "Poverty Draft" ponders the fate of poor Southerners ending up in the military rather than Northern manufacturing plants but still not finding their way out of a cycle of poverty and death. Scorch's voice has a clean, strong Midwestern timbre, and he's capable of making his emotions clear without overselling his songs, and the scrappy fury of his band, the Country Soul Ensemble, is a superb match for these songs. Al Scorch is a top-notch storyteller who suggests a poetic version of Studs Terkel, and his music is every bit as strong. If anyone on the current Chicago music scene has the makings of a major artist, it's Al Scorch, and Circle Round the Signs is an album that deserves and demands a wide hearing.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/13/2016
Label: Bloodshot Records
UPC: 0744302024127
catalogNumber: 241
Rank: 147858


  1. Pennsylvania Turnpike
  2. Lost at Sea
  3. Everybody Out
  4. Insomnia
  5. Lonesome Low
  6. Want One
  7. City Lullaby
  8. Slipknot
  9. Poverty Draft
  10. Love After Death

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Scorch   Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Vocals
Justin Amolsch   French Horn
Chloe Feoranzo   Clarinet
Charlie Malave   Cello,Vocals
Sima Cunningham   Vocals
Dorian Gehring   Accordion
Ryan Koenig   Harmonica
Ausberto Acevedo   Bass
Felipe Tobar   Violin
Cris Castellan   Drums

Technical Credits

Woody Guthrie   Composer
Neil Strauch   Producer,Engineer
Dorian Gehring   Engineer
Scorch   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Gaylen Mohre   Composer
Damara Kaminecki   Cover Art

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