Seeking substance -- and sincerity  

COLUMBIA, Mo 2/27/14 (Beat Byte) -- After making a name for herself as a singer-songwriter and touring the world with her bands, Hilary Scott Gennaro -- better known as Hilary Scott -- has come full circle.  
She started the Hilary Scott Band in Columbia nearly fourteen years ago and on Tuesday, became the Columbia Heart Beat's first-ever music reviewer, with a look at John Galbraith's Souvenir.

She will write about Columbia-based singers, groups, and musicians with a unique perspective -- an ear for sound honed by a long career and a writer's gift for words.   

Before writing lyrics, the now-married Scott-Gennaro wrote prose.  "Writing reviews gives me the chance to combine both loves, while meeting other artists, hearing new music, and exploring music in a different way," she explains. 

Good music reviewers are like good detectives, Hilary says, "deciphering what the artist may have intended and then trying to tell that 'story' to an audience before many of them have heard it for themselves." 

With her first band and now Hilary Scott and the New County Line, she knows what it's like to have her own words and music "deciphered" -- an experience we think audiences will appreciate.   Not only is it unusual among reviewers, most of whom never practice the art they analyze, but -- as what Aarik Danielsen called "something of an international darling" -- Scott has proven she can walk the walk -- and then some. 

"Amid a melange of time zones, international date lines, languages and suitcases, Scott has earned the trust of her audiences through the power of her soulful voice," wrote Danielsen, the Columbia Daily Tribune features editor

Readers can count on Hilary -- who will go by her well-known stage name -- to be as objective as possible, putting aside "my own preferences.  A review is an opinion piece, but being an educated musician and consumer of music means you are aware when your own subjectivity is getting in the way." 

Along the way, she'll be listening for "emotional resonance," sincerity, ("if you convince me you mean it, I can connect with your work") and the occasional surprise.  "If I can predict too much about the way a song is going to go, it often loses my attention," she explains. 

And as Scott's Galbraith review suggests, readers can expect plenty of attention to lyrics. 

"Lyrics are my barometer for artistic quality," she says.  "Music that pulls my heart strings, makes me want to move, or makes me fall in love with the world is the first thing I notice.  But if I find there is no substance to the words, it can seem hollow."

"Substance" doesn't mean stuffy, by the way. 

"Entire songs can be based on nonsense words and still feel sincere and meaningful," Scott explains, citing The Beatles and Sigur Ros.  "The Beatles had a great mix of poetic, thoughtful lyricism, and vibrantly nonsensical wordplay, while Sigur Ros often uses a made-up language called 'Hopelandic'.  
"I come back to sincerity.  It is a subjective guidepost, but a guidepost nonetheless."