Gerry Spehar “Other Voices”

Independent, 2024

Gerry Spehar, Other Voices, 2024

Multiple artists breathe life into a multivariate catalogue.

Gerry Spehar, Other Voices, 2024Gerry Spehar has been busy. The Colorado singer-songwriter returns with ‘Other Voices,’ part of a late-career flurry of releases. A wide-ranging album, produced by Spehar himself, showcases four decades of his songs performed by artists such as Teresa James, Dale Watson, Lisa McKenzie, Gary Lynn Floyd, Lisa Daye, and Spehar himself. It’s the latest chapter in a storied and winding career, marked by recent prolific activity. Spehar first found success as part of the Spehar Brothers, opening for the likes of Boz Scaggs and Townes Van Zandt.

However, a life in music was interrupted when the necessities of everyday life and family required him to take a nine-to-five job in a bank. His love of music played on but balanced with daily responsibilities.

Now in his retirement and after his wife Sue’s passing from cancer in 2017, Spehar is making up for lost time, releasing four albums from 2017 to 2022. Spehar is an adept craftsman, with songs spanning multiple genres from Nashville foot-stompers and jangling roots rock to swamp blues and soul. It’s a well-honed collection from an experienced hand—no shortcuts, just pure craftsmanship.

This is an archival release, a clearing of the storage room that puts into light Spehar’s lifelong dedication to his craft. There’s a fond, familial feel, tied together by the multitude of voices on offer. They’re varied but come together like fruit plucked from different trees in the same orchard. They bundle together into a bountiful basket that depicts a songwriter still deeply in love with songwriting.

Do What You Used To Do,’ voiced by Gary L. Floyd, has a pleasing new roots stomp. Floyd brings many moments of soulful slickness, lifting things into the shimmering world of country pop. Dale Watson’s appearance singing ‘Joanne‘ is a great slice of Hank Williams Jr. sly and politically caustic country thump: “He’s a candidate to decimate and further try to regulate this land/ No, I haven’t been to law school but there’s still a few things I can understand.” Despite his otherwise affable delivery, Spehar has a sharp eye for political distrust, evident in his 2018 album ‘Anger Management‘ that took on Trump.

Elsewhere, Lisa McKenzie’s performance of ‘Love To The Rescue‘ is spirited and pleasing, while the McKenzie and Floyd duet ‘The Longer I Love You‘ is late-night soul, reminiscent of the teary-eyed side of Merle Haggard.

While perhaps more limited in range than some of the guest artists, the songs Spehar sings himself carry the most down-home charm. His voice offers a pleasing, gravelly welcome reminiscent of late-era Porter Wagoner or Tom T. Hall, evident in the pastoral ‘Georgetown‘ and the wistful sea song ‘Normandy.’ Most enigmatic is the first track, the streetwise ‘God Bless The Tomcat,’ which could only be sung by Spehar himself: “There’s a tomcat on the doorstep howling at the moon/ No one ever told him only dogs can sing that tune/ I think that I might walk outside and sing a harmony/ I think that I might take a friend and find some company.

This is a streetwise collection. Time-worn and tailored, these songs are the measure of a man in full dedication to his craft.

7/10
7/10

About Tom Harding 18 Articles
A writer with a love of all things country, folk, jazz and blues. By night I'm a poet with two published poetry books from Palewell Press, latest available now, "Afternoon Music." www.tomharding.net
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments