This LP from Soundatone records is my first exposure to Mr. Speer and his work. I always really enjoy encountering albums that come free of preconceived ideas about the music attached, as is normal when reviewing albums and artists that are more familiar to me. This is also the first album that I have reviewed that could fall into the country or bluegrass idioms. Upon first listen, I was immediately pleased with the varied, yet consistent material presented on this album. The vinyl I received does the music justice as the warmer sound of this medium is beautifully matched with the texture and warmth of the music it contains.
The album is a well balanced mix of instrumental and vocal songs that complement each other quite effectively. In fact, while listening to the first track, a joyful banjo driven romp, I was perfectly satisfied with the idea of the record as an instrumental record. Then when D. Charles Speer unleashes his dark, personal singing style, listening to the album becomes a doubly satisfying experience. This album gives the listener a taste of both well written and developed instrumental compositions as well as some talented, lyrical songwriting.
Speer's voice, as cliche as it sounds, is reminiscent of Johnny Cash in some ways, but remains uniquely his own. The singing in this album is starkly personal and the technical imperfections that sometimes permeate his singing lend themselves well to a sort of "homeyness" that is lost on the majority of music that is being put out these days in similar genres. Album as a whole varies from dreamy blues textures to straight-ahead picking. Speer hold his own as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist here, and blows almost anything that feigns to call itself "country" out of the water. This is a great direction for the expansion of a genre that many listeners and critics alike may have long since written-off as dead.
8.7/10 More information and ordering at http://www.soundatone.com