Brett Spaulding Livin’ to Play
Calgary’s Brett Spaulding is a step-and-a-half closer to rock ‘n’ roll than those typically covered here at Fervor Coulee, but I’ll allow it this once.
With a crackin’ rhythm section (Chad Holtzman, bass, vox, organ, percussion, and guitar and Emmet VanEtten, drums, percussion, and vox), propelling the album, the Psychic Spies produce Danko Jones-like sounds: aggressive and full-frontal, but always in control and focused. “City Walls” roars toward Thin Lizzy territory, never unwelcome that, while the closing “Little Difference” has a pick-up truck, prairie rock vibe.
Spaulding’s voice is never buried in the mix, a credit to the band and co-producer with Spaulding, Holtzman. His voice is appealing, never straining for a note just out of reach: more than solid. The song arrangements are spot-on, with surprising twists (“The Ride,” “The Lucky One”) that maintain interest across nine original songs and thirty-three minutes: I wonder if coming in at almost a perfect 33.3 was deliberate?
More rock than blues, Brett Spaulding & the Psychic Spies’ debut Livin’ To Play is recommended for those who appreciate hooks and solid, home-grown rock ‘n’ roll flirting with the blues.