Brett Spaulding- Livin’ to Play review

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.

While guitar-driven (and guitar-heavy), Spaulding’s songs are melodic (“Driveby,” “Can’t Stop”) blues-rock explorations that—at one time, long ago—might have made their way onto rock FM playlists.

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.

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