Song Premier: Scott Sean White’s “Small World” Is A Gently Delivered Wake-Up Call

Singer/songwriter and artist Scott Sean White will be releasing his new album Even Better on the Bad Days, on January 19th, 2024. It was produced by Grammy nominated producer Dave Brainard (Brandy Clark, Jamey Johnson, Sunny Sweeney, and more) which was a step White made toward making sure he could sound like his real self.

White comments on the album:

When I started planning this record, I felt like I needed to have more up-tempo songs and more full band songs… Just to kind of take the next step from the first record, to progress forward. The challenge with that was finding a sound that made sense with my voice and my songs, because a record with my name on it was not gonna be anything remotely resembling mainstream Nashville. It had to be me. That’s why I went and talked to my friend Dave Brainard to see if he would consider producing the project. He’s an outside-the-mainstream guy. He produces left-of-center songwriter records, so I felt like he could help me find that sound that would make sense for my stuff. And boy – did he ever. 

Today, we’re very pleased to debut a new song from White’s upcoming album, “Small World.” The concept of a small world usually means that we are more closely connected to others than we may think, and that’s part of White’s message with this track, however, he also delivers the other side of the coin from a songwriting perspective, that our worlds literally get smaller as we drift away or lose friends and loved ones.

While that could potentially be rather dour subject-matter for a song, White and co-writer John Baumann are willing to load the song with textural detail from memory and lives lived that give a sense of expansiveness. White also constructs the song around sparkling elements alongside an emotive cello that suggest the bittersweetness of treasured memories rather than simply the pain of loss. The chorus, particularly, is a recognition and a plea to value one’s world and the beauty it holds before it gets any smaller. As such, it’s a gently delivered wake-up call.

Scott Sean White shares the full story behind the song, and behind the cover art with us:

“I wrote “Small World” with the great Texas singer-songwriter John Baumann back in June of 2021. He threw out that title – actually sang the whole hook with the guitar chords under it – “It’s a small world and getting smaller all the time.” Looking back on that moment, I feel pretty sure that if he had thrown that out anytime before Mar 21st of that year – we would’ve either written the idea completely differently, or not at all. 

I say that because on Mar 21st and Apr 4th that year – I lost my last two brothers (Daniel and Kirk) exactly two weeks apart. We had started out with 5 of us (4 boys and one girl), lost Joey back in 2016, and in just 14 days in 2021, we went from 4 left… to just 2. Me and my sister Diana. To say it was hard obviously doesn’t begin to cover it. 

I remember in the months after Daniel and Kirk passing, that I was purposely, consciously avoiding writing songs about it. It was just too heavy and I didn’t wanna completely fall apart in the writing room. And when John threw that line out there – it was NOT the first thing that came to mind. At first – we talked about some of the usual, expected ways to write it and talked about how we might be able to paint that picture and twist it a little. 

Then we talked about high school and how you think you have all these friends in high school/junior high/elementary school, but when you get out and get into the real world… you’re lucky if you even stay in touch with one or two. 

Somewhere in talking about all that – is when Daniel and Kirk came to my mind. Hmmm. Talk about a small world getting smaller… in a hurry. My world. Our world. 

I had to decide whether or not to dive into it. 

Obviously – I decided to dive in.

Then I told John about this photograph I had found in Daniel’s house back in 2020. We had been going through his house because in 2019, it became evident that he had dementia and that it was progressing really, really fast. We knew he couldn’t safely live by himself much longer so we were going through the whole process of getting him qualified for Medicaid and having to sell his house and all that. It was crazy. In one of the boxes I went through, I found the picture that is now the cover art for the song. You see – Daniel, Diana, and Joey had a different dad than me – his name was Eddie Noland. And this photo, from a newspaper down in Waco, was Daniel as an infant, his dad Eddie, then Eddie’s dad, granddad, and great granddad. FIVE generations of Noland’s in ONE photograph. I just sat and stared at it for probably 3 or 4 minutes. What a beautiful picture. You don’t see that very often. 

Then we talked about how – when you find THE ONE – like my wife for me and John’s  wife for him… sometimes you can be in a crowd and it doesn’t matter because it feels like it’s just you and her and no one else. There were a lot of those moments for me in the weeks after Daniel and Kirk passed – particularly when Brenda flew down to join me at the Key West Songwriter Festival the first week of May that year. I don’t know that I had ever been so glad to see her. 

So yeah… that all swirled around in the room as we wrote this song. It can be hard for me to get through the song live sometimes. But in my job – that’s a good thing :-)”

The song “Small World” was written by Scott Sean White and John Baumann. White performs guitar and vocals, while Dave Brainard performs guitars, piano, and keyboards. Carole Rabinowitz contributes on the cello and Dani Flowers performs harmony vocals.

You may be familiar with White’s work via Cody Johnson, who recorded two of his songs on his Human album, “God Bless the Boy” and “Made a Home,” the latter of which was written with both Cody and their mutual friend Jesse Raub, Jr. Cody Johnson also recently recorded another song of Scott’s called “Over Missing You” for an upcoming album and he’s also been playing it as an encore song at several of his concerts this year. In addition, Scott wrote the title track on Bryan Martin’s Poets and Old Souls EP.

You can also check out Wildfire’s previous premier of Scott Sean White’s song “Pulling Weeds”, also from the upcoming album, Even Better on the Bad Days.