Day Break

Spencer Day

Independent release, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


On his fifth studio album, and first as an independent since his 2003 debut, Spencer Day crafts another set of snappy, beautifully crafted tunes mixing vocal jazz, early ’60s pop, and blue-eyed soul. The casual insouciance of both Day’s vocals and his vintage vibe speaks to his confidence and total commitment to the throwback artistic identity he inhabits throughout Day Break, which features a tasty blend of five clever originals and five imaginative covers.

Opener “Let’s Go Missing” is easygoing, finger-snapping fun, yet sophisticated, too; it’s music to shimmy to in a classy retro-chic nightclub. “Naturally,” another original, features a clever, well-rhymed intro and a winning vibe as it executes a nice build. The rather Chris Isaak-ish “Don’t Let Me In” is a smoky-cool cut brimming with beautiful despair, a number in which Day implores the woman he’s in the process of breaking up with not to take him back no matter how much he begs, because “we’ll never win.” Another original, “Wait Till I Get You Alone” is a flirty, playful come-on.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The covers are a diverse bunch, unified by the way Day transplants them from their normal settings into his very specific retro musical environment. First up, his gender-bending remake of the Nancy Sinatra kitsch-classic “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” is a hoot. It could have been simply bizarre, but instead it’s smirking, winking fun, and when the horn section kicks in hard near the end, it’s a thing of beauty.

By contrast, Day’s adaptation of “Never My Love,” the 1967 hit by The Association, is played straight up, a somber, serious ballad featuring a luxuriant string section. The husky glow of the production (courtesy of Day and bassist Eric Kertes) is the perfect complement to cuts like the Young Rascals’ “Groovin’,” which Day gives a breezy, satisfying reading.

Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Bad Moon Rising” gets a swinging blue-eyed soul treatment, complete with slinky guitars and fat horn section; it’s like Harry Connick, Jr. possessed by the soul of a young James Brown. Beatles obscurity “World Without Love” has Day harmonizing with Kathleen Grace over a spare arrangement of just two acoustic guitars. The album closes out with a final original, the wise-aleck, rather early-Motown-sounding “You Don’t Know You’re Lonely.”

Day’s abilities as both a writer of original material and a re-interpreter of others’ work are genuinely impressive. It seems he could turn almost anything into a Spencer Day song just by translating it into his distinct vocabulary of piano, guitar, restrained rhythm section and the occasional strings and horns. And his originals are superb—classic-feeling, beautifully-crafted nuggets with fine turns of phrase and rippling melodies. Spencer, you have a new fan.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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