STYLE: Roots/Acoustic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 159510-23587 LABEL: Origin Jazz Library OJL2001 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Recognised by those in the know as an underrated progenitor in the burgeoning New York folk scene of the early '60s, singer/songwriter Spoelstra came out of his Californian semi-retirement in 2001 to record this, his first album in two decades. Remarkably, Spoelstra had lost none of the qualities that made his 1965 debut Elektra release 'Five & Twenty Questions' so appealing with his gentle but captivating vocal delivery and his virtuoso blues-tinged fingerpicking still intact as evidenced in this album's opener and stalwart of his earlier canon "I'm A Stranger Everywhere". Whilst his earlier works generally had a strong social message, this collection sees the older Spoelstra in more relaxed mood with songs like "Teach You To Relax" and "Fishin' Song" hinting at contentment with life. Mind you, it's not all solid gold with the likes of "School Boy Crush", "Hug Today" and "Touchy Tiger" coming across as half-baked and throwaway but this is more than made up for by meatier numbers such as the beautiful ode to his granddaughter "Ileanna". Elsewhere, Spoelstra's intervening occupation as a bus driver in Yosemite National Park influences songs like "Yosemite Valley" and "Rivers Of Mercy" - the latter of which most succinctly references his faith in God whilst the 12 string instrumental "San Joaquin County Fair" is the icing on the cake.
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