April 10, 2008

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Jason Spooner, The Flame You Follow
Self-released, Jan. 3
It’s always uplifting to see contemporary singer/songwriters deviate from the I-am-so-emotionally-ruined-but-naturally-gifted posturing of today. Portland, Maine-based Spooner’s second album is all business with a natural steez of its own stemming from an updated Stephen Stills vocal sound and a precise grasp of just how much hookage one is supposed to cram into a nu-AOR album targeted for casual-listening coffee-house bookworms who never actually learn singers’ names anyway. Everything aboard this one could handle background-patter duty at your basic honky wedding reception, which belies the advanced capabilities of the contributing musicians, one of whom is Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone. The tunes, should you not have guessed by now, are a kaleidoscope of big-time easy-listening influences, a little busker sex-appeal here (“All That We Know”), some Paul Simon (“Fight the Fire” is “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” in a parallel dimension), and a come-hither to lovers of finely chiseled Americana in “Spaceship.” BEric W. Saeger