The follow-up effort to a successful debut album has always represented
a potential Bermuda Triangle in the career path of every songwriter.
Some choose to replicate while others become submerged by the weight of
expectation. In the case of Jason Spooners The Flame You Follow, the
choice could not have been simpler: reinvention.
Armed with a sound and a clarity of purpose, the trio, rounded out by Andy
Rice (bass) and Reed Chambers (drums), quietly entered a small rural studio
in the dead of the Maine winter and set to work. Jason recalls, We
barely even spoke about the particulars at first... We all felt the same
need to build this record from the ground up around the core sound of the
band... a sound that has been percolating independently for quite some time.
The resulting urgency and energy captured during these sessions is apparent
from the first seconds of the lead off track Black and Blue, which quickly
establishes the cast of characters that accompany the listener throughout.
Chambers infectious rim pattern is eventually joined by the gigantic
foundation of Rices upright bass, followed by Spooners signature
tenor and finger-picked fretwork on the acoustic guitar. The stage is set.
Recorded with celebrated New England engineer, Jon Wyman, the trio felt
extremely comfortable at the thought of exploring new ground while drawing
upon their collective well of influences. Spooners heroes are certainly
present in spirit (Neil Young, JJ Cale, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Paul Simon),
however there is a sense of maturity and reverence here that has allowed
Spooner to tip his hat while maintaining and furthering his own voice and
point of view. Also present is the strong influence of the impressive group
of guest musicians hand-picked by the band to participate including Tim
Carbone on fiddle, Ryan Zoidis on saxophone, songwriter Kim Taylor on guest
vocals, Andy Happel on cello & violin and Abbie Gardner on vocals &
My goal from the early writing stages of this record Spooner
explains was to create a piece, a collection of songs where the whole
felt great than the sum of the parts. All of my favorite records were pieces;
Dylan records... Floyd, Bowie, Beatles... we all focused on keeping this
cohesive from day one. Im admittedly a fan of records that delve into
the shadows a bit. Neil Youngs beautifully dark Tonights The
Night was a formative record for me. Pink Floyds Obscured By Clouds
is another major one... and certainly Patty Griffins masterpiece Living
With Ghosts. The results are brave portraits of struggle, self discovery
and, eventually, wisdom.