The first two tracks of From the Bottom would have you believe that Rick Spreitzer was a throwback to the folk artists of the early 70s such as Jim Ringer, his laid back vocal style rolling with the strum of the guitar. You think, nice enough. Downright enjoyable, in fact, but hardly worth the critical acclaim (if you haven't seen it, you haven't been looking). Then Serpent and Henry Gray steps beyond the standard. An epic tale of sorts, it begins with chord progressions oddly familiar (they tiptoe around the beginning of Blind Faith's Can't Find My Way Home), then dances into Gordon Lightfoot territory, telling a story of trouble and strife, the band (guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin , brush drums and bass) pushing the tale forward beautifully. Add able and fitting vocals from one of a handful of ladies for whom I can find no credit and you have one fine song. Better than fine. This CD is worth it for this song alone.
Truth is, Rick Spreitzer might be the center of this project, but his real strength is putting together a superb group of supporting musicians and vocalists and having the wherewithal to hold ego back while giving them room to move. Take, for instance, the folk-rocking title track. Upbeat, it choogles and almost rocks, thanks to over the top reverb/tremolo-induced guitar by (assumedly) Mike Strauss and fine female voice (damn, why do people not identify musicians track-by-track?). First listen, it sounds okay, but with each successive listen, it plain grows on you until you look forward to it each time the CD plays.
This CD is full of such music. Spreitzer is a musician/songwriter that some may need a few listens to appreciate, but when they do it is well worth it. Motel Prayer and No Idea have that lost feel to them, a sense of fatigue oozing from the speakers and overtaking you slowly until you're almost depressed without really knowing why. The major/minor chords of Ghosts of Natchez give it an eerie feel and it is helped along by a female chorus of ghostly but harmonious demeanor. And Falling Down—the title pretty much says it all.
If you want my opinion, this isn't the best thing Spreitzer will ever do and that's not a slam. It's just that as good as this is, and it's damn good, Spreitzer has a hell of a future ahead. The guy writes, he sings, he plays. He's got the goods. I'm already looking forward to his next album.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles