Spencer Mackenzie- Preach to My Soul review

Spencer Mackenzie Preach to My Soul SpencerMackenzie.ca

Go for what you know.

For youthful blues-guitarist Spencer Mackenzie, that appears to be rockin’ blues.

During my formative, high school musical years listening to mainstream rock FM stations, I could hear Powder Blues, Downchild, and David Wilcox alongside a Rumours track, the next chart-climber from Pat Benatar, or the latest disappointing single from Cheap Trick.

It wasn’t exactly the free-form radio of the early 70s, but it was powerful, it often felt raw, and there was a place for a certain type of rocking, Canadian blues. Those days are long gone, of course, and today it is hard to imagine radio where “Hypnotizing Boogie” played right after “People Who Died” or “Mystery Achievement.”


If you can get your imagination there, space is reserved on that playlist for Spencer Mackenzie.

Compared to Mackenzie’s previous (and quite enjoyable) album Cold November, Preach to My Soul doesn’t have as many predictable notes, changes, and phrases. While there is melodic variety, it also doesn’t attempt as wide a palate of sounds and approaches. And as it turns out, that is just fine.

This consistent, ten-song set is straight-ahead, guitar-based rockin’ blues, no quarter given to overtly emotional ballads. Mackenzie appears to have decided to focus on one thing, and do it especially well. Emphasizing anthemic rockers is Mackenzie’s trade here, “Baptized in Cold Water” (featuring Chantal Williams on soulful vocals,) “Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Battle From Within,” and “Your Turn to Cry” being four strong examples.

“Can’t Do Right”? The album’s best song is straight out of the Pat Travers Band 1979 playbook.

I believe Miles Evans (piano, Hammond, keys) is the only holdover from the previous Mackenzie album. There are times, as on “Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Can’t Do Right,” that you can imagine Adam Cannon (drums) as Tommy Aldridge, the bass (Steve Pelletier and Stacey Shopsowitz) being played by Mars Cowling with the lead guitars (Mackenzie and Steve Strongman on “Paranoia Blues”) switching between Pat Thrall and Travers.

Maybe it’s just my time-ravaged brain, but this exciting collection of songs brings back those heady days.

Boom! Boom!

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