Gerry Spehar “I Hold Gravity” (Independent, 2017)

During the 1970’s and up until 1986 Gerry Spehar was based in Colorado and had a thriving musical career.  He played as a duo with his brother George in the 70’s and in the Spehar Brothers Band with both George and brother Tom.  He then performed solo until meeting Bobby Allison whom he began writing and performing with in 1981. During all this, Spehar opened shows for the likes of Merle Haggard, Boz Scaggs and Townes Van Zandt. In 1986 Gerry made what he describes as the hardest decision of his life, turning his back on the music business to focus on providing a stable foundation for his family.

30 years later, Spehar returns to the music that he loves and the result is I Hold Gravity, a collection of 10 songs on which he collaborated with his other great love, wife Susan. The album chronicles their final cross-country drives, their mountain heritage, and an L.A. to Texas landscape filled with shrimpers, dynamiters and wildcatters, wrestlers, roughnecks, overambitious farmers, and Monsanto lawyers. Spehar spent the past year producing and finishing this album and taking care of Susan, who sadly passed away from cancer in September, just as they were finishing the recordings.

The love that Spehar devoted to this project is evident throughout as he brings these landscapes and characters to life with an affection borne of someone with a real understanding of his roots.  Opening track Dirt, an electric guitar driven rocker about economic ambition, draws on Gerry’s family roots as coal miners and ranchers. Here in The Pass describes life oyster fishing on the Gulf and Blue Bayou while God Lubbock celebrates, if that is the word, the sweat and graft of working in a dust bowl environment ‘heat rises, time slows, 110 in the shade, ride that tractor, till those fields, sweat pours, pitiful yields.’

Contrast these sobering takes on working life with How to Get to Heaven from LA and Mr. & Mrs. Jones a couple of slyly humorous tracks. Mr. & Mrs. Jones is a wicked tale of keeping up with the Jones and the lengths some people will go to bring those Joneses down a peg or two. All this within a familiar landscape of growing corn on the plains of Iowa. Spehar enlisted the LA band I See Hawks in LA as his studio band and this track brilliantly showcases the talents of Chris Tuttle on Wurlitzer and Paul Lacques on guitar.

The album ends with Into the Mystic a simple acoustic guitar production but one of the album highlights as it recalls that point in his life when music and the bigger world called to Spehar. It is about that calling and that difficult rite of passage we all face at some point.

By drawing on his life and his roots Gerry Spehar has delivered an album that paints pictures of a hardworking and unglamorous American way of life. Along with co-producer Lacques, the result is a folky, country album with roots.

Author: Peter Churchill

Lover of intelligent singer-songwriters; a little bit country; a little bit folk; a little bit Americana. Perfect Day - early morning round of golf, afternoon at Dean Court watching AFC Bournemouth, evening gig at a cosy smallish venue with a pint and a packet of scratchings.

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