Jason Spooner - The Flame You Follow
Here's a young man in Jason Spooner who seems matured so far beyond his years, you'd believe he discovered the fountain of youth and is really a 30-year seasoned singer-songwriter. On the strength of a solid debut and this sophomore effort, he's really netting himself a fine fanbase along with national and international exposure. The rest of his band are no slouches, either. The Flame You Follow was released over the summer and despite it's limited market (narrowed to internet sales and the band's New England homeland), it seems to be doing very well. There's a big reason for that: pure quality.
Spooner and his band play a brand of folk-rock that often combines elements of funk, jazz, blues, roots and country into a colorful blend of wordly sounds. His voice itself is a fusion of elements found in the stylings of Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, and a little James Blunt, amongst others. The variety that spans across these 10 originals (and a pretty cool cover of Talking Heads' "Slippery People") is very deep, and very satisfying. "Black and Blue" starts things off with an upbeat tempo, Reed Chambers' smooth rim patterns and Spooner's developed lyrical quality; he can weave stories for you to get lost in like a young Neil Young. "All That We Know" is centered on Andy Rice's ground-rattling upright bass lines, a more western-tinged track that would fit in nicely in Nashville's heyday. "Spaceship" is very smooth with a jazz exterior, coming off like more classic DMB. Bombastic with a large sound picture, this song is currently launching the band through the competition of a Starbucks-hosted songwriting challenge.
As the album progresses, a true connected feel is apparent. In a day and age when the artistic merits of the full-length album are quickly fading, it's nice to hear a bunch of songs that fuse together without sounding similar or forced together. It's clear that Jason Spooner is a man amongst men when it comes to the particulars of songwriting, and it's more than clear that his influences never overshadow his strong presence. The Flame You Follow has to be one of the year's best folk-rock albums, and for fans of DMB, Damien Rice or just modern folk in general will want to seek this trio out post-haste.
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