Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Fire Again: A Quick Word About The New EP From A. Spencer (ex-Paint Branch)

A. Spencer Goldman played in Paint Branch (with John Davis of Title Tracks and Chris Richards of Q And Not U) for a bit, and he's got a project called Fulton Lights that's ongoing, but it's the latest EP offered up as A. Spencer that I'm concerned with today. Cicatriz, out now, is a collection of affecting neo-roots music that I thoroughly enjoyed. The lack of pretension here is something that charmed me as, given the genre, it would have been easy for the players to get lost in the touches that give this the mark of authenticity, rather than the tunes themselves.

And, to his credit, A. Spencer has crafted 3 solid songs here that don't need a great deal of embellishment to succeed. The title cut surges on the back of a supple hook that recalls songs from bands as disparate as Iron & and Wine and Yo La Tengo, with guitar-work from Adam Ollendorf (Kacey Musgraves) carrying things forward, while the more down-tempo "Wagging The Dog" sees Spencer adopt a more elegiac tone, even as the melody-line maintains a quiet jauntiness. The closing track on this EP, "The Fire Again", is haunting nu-country, for lack of a better description, a bridging of a few genres via a simple melody, strong hook, and assured vocals.

The players on this all deserve credit but A. Spencer is the guiding hand here, rendering this sort of music with such ease that one forgets how easily this could have been overdone. Spencer has kept things direct and uncomplicated, and the touches here -- slide guitar, a slight twang in vocal delivery -- that place this within some sort of definable genre tradition, feel natural and unforced. This is serious music, but not music that ever feels unnatural for the players. And as the final cut here on the Cicatriz EP makes a lyrical reference to Nirvana, a listener is reminded that this is yet another avenue within American indie, and one being explored confidently by the musicians involved with A. Spencer.

Cicatriz by A. Spencer is out now.