Crayons & Angels (2015)
"Schott is part pop wunderkind and part pop historian, weaving together sunny tunes and soft, atmospheric preludes in a format that’s more pleasantly aligned with the ’60s and ’70s than the fragmented Teens. Densely layered harmonies introduce the tone vocabulary up front with the brief “Dandelion” which moves into “Henry,” exhibiting to these ears a feel of vintage Merrymakers (and those who influenced them). While the collection features eighteen tracks, making the attempt to pick a conclusive best song near impossible, one of the highest ranking entries is “Every Little Song.” A duet with another Popdose favorite in Kelly Jones, the tune is a perfect example of Schott’s sense of melodic construction. Schott is joined by Nick Heyward on “Better Version Of Me,” yet another standout. But if you absolutely need a cover song to ease you in, Schott does a remarkable version of Elvis Costello’s “Riot Act” on Crayons & Angels too.
There is a connectivity to the tracklisting that suggests a larger theme at work on the album. I won’t go so far to say it is a concept record. Many of the pieces fit untethered within the context of classic pop — love won and lost, youth lived and passed — but there’s no denying that opening with “Dandelion” and returning to it in “Dandelion Rain” near the end is not an arbitrary decision. The key line, “Wonder what became of dandelion rain” underscores the premise that things have changed since we grew up. Following that is “Verdugo Park Part II,” also a callback from earlier in the record (being “Verdugo Park”). You may recall that song debuting as a single earlier in the year, and it’s sunny demeanor illustrated carefree days. The sequel sounds more like that voice of knowledge, or more precisely, too much knowledge. Schott sings like he needs to get back to that place, to shake away the burdens of adulthood, if only temporarily. Winding through the “foothills of Montrose,” the instrumentation fills in when Schott sings, “Verdugo Park is here.” Unlike Toyland, you can return although it is never going to be quite the same. Does it really have to be?
For anyone looking for that highly melodic, youthful (but not juvenile) sound, Crayons & Angels marks a new high water mark for Schott and is recommended. As a musical illusionist, he can make openhearted listeners still believe in magic, at least for a little while."
-D.W. Dunphy, Popdose