Grown-up Music From a Grown-Up Guy

Sci-Fi Guy (Independent)
R Scot Payne

By Kory Wilcoxson

Don't let the title fool you. Sci-Fi Guy may imply a certain amount of Star Trek headiness, but Louisville's own R Scot Payne has no problems going to a man's final frontier: the dark places of the heart. His poetic lyrics and non-formulaic songwriting make Sci-Fi Guy a solid and enjoyable effort.

Payne's voice brings to mind a twang-less James McMurtry and his music calls to mind later, more pensive REM. It's an adult-oriented sound that calls for a mature audience, one who can relate to the roads Payne has traveled. His perspective on love is well worn, as on "Beg": "Don't beg me please/don't make me feel/that all you wanted was a chance/to make the motions of romance/a slow dance to fill the hole inside you."

Payne has a penchant for mining life's complexities with just a few words. On "Payne's Gray," he addresses a friend who's missing out on the color of life: "You had your chance to dance/but when love came, it came and went away/ Love's red and blue, but all I see in you is Payne's gray." Payne delivers his lyrics with little emotion, his detachment emphasizing the power of his observations.

Payne is also not afraid to mine more touchy subjects, like his take on religion in "The One." Payne's transparent honesty makes his songs feel instantly familiar, giving the listener a feeling of comfort and a compelling reason to listen.