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Digging into Spafford - For Amusement Only

Let me admit right off the bat that I am new to Spafford, so you will have to forgive my late arrival to the party and my lack of knowledge that fans might consider pertinent. I’m not BRAND new, as I have had a few tracks in heavy rotation for a year or so on my playlists, but I would hardly call myself truly and deeply familiar with their work. That being said, when I heard there was a new record out, I had to hear it.

Curiosity has had me for a while. You see, there is a very strong Spafford presence on line, and its an incredibly loyal fan base. I mean, lets be honest. The jam scene has some of the most rabidly loyal fans I have ever seen just in general. Pop into most fan groups on Facebook, and be prepared to be roasted heavily if you speak about any other band or even your lack of complete knowledge on the one in discussion. You know what I am talking about. Everyone feels THEIR band is the next torch carrying, movement starting, life changing artist on the scene. While this can be tedious, I don't say this with hate in my heart. On the contrary, it’s one of the things that I like about this scene. People don’t just follow an artist they love. They are feverishly devoted to that artist, their fans, and everything they are about. It creates a family within the family that is the jam scene. There is something very comforting and amazing about that concept. I say this because I was first intrigued by this band when I saw their online fan presence. People who love Spafford LOVE Spafford.

My curiosity sent me into a Spafford rabbit hole. This four piece hails from Arizona. I visited Arizona for work once. It was the first place I ever saw an actual road runner. (I didn’t know they were real…they don’t say beep-beep) The band's music has a heavy jam quality while still injecting tidbits of funk and a whole lot of pure rock. It’s got a soulful quality while injecting these great dance moments in their songs that make them a force all their own in the scene. They were a presence at Peach Fest this year, in addition to The Werk Out, Levitate, Bonnaroo, Frendly Gathering, and a LOT of other festivals, as well as out with Umphreys for some dates. In other words, these guys work their asses off out there, and their music shows that dedication. The more I listened, the more I liked it. Feeling a little more familiar, I felt like I could dig into this new record and give For Amusement Only my full attention.

The record kicks off with Leave the Light On, an upbeat and groove heavy track with a really great key/guitar pairing two thirds in. The bass is layered well beneath and the drums are extremely well done. The vocals are smooth and level and I really dig the tone. I cant help but shake it a bit as I sit here with the track playing in my headphones. It’s A Bunch has a cool bass groove right out of the gate and a sweet underlayer to its construction that I dug right away. I like how these guys layer the sounds in the mix because there is no major, dominant presence to anything. Everything is so well woven. Big points there. This song is an instrumental and gives a fantastic highlight of the songwriting and playing that these guys are showcasing on this record. I dig the heavy guitar solo.
Ain’t That Wrong is a really cool tune that kicks your ass immediately with really tasty guitar and heavy bass groove. I am really digging the songwriting direction that the band took with this record. It’s radio friendly but its still jam heavy and cool. The drums in this song are particularly good and the dancey jam two thirds in with sax presence is super fun. I want to experience this one live in a big way. It’s got a great big shake your ass kinda sound. I am starting to see why there is such a heavy following to these guys and I’m curious as hell about their live show with these new songs.
Mind’s Unchained starts out plucky and light but slowly builds as the vocals come in. I like this song a lot. It’s got a little funk, a lot of jam rock, and just enough of the edge that Spafford seems to sprinkle in their songwriting. The guitar solo is solid and the bass grooves straight through. Simon and Lilly has all the crucial jam band song components with great guitar and sing a long vocals strung along a really great and body moving groove. The keys are gorgeous as they swirl and spin through the track. It’s a great freaking song, start to finish. It might be my favorite on the whole record. I have had in on repeat for a while and I kinda have no desire to change it. I really, really love the vocals on this song.
All in all, this record is strong as hell and I’m digging it, start to finish. You can check it out HERE and I strongly recommend that you do. It’s a great album with really great songwriting. This has only grown my interest in this band and I hope to be able to catch them out in the live world as soon as I can. You can check out their tour schedule HERE on their website. It looks like they will be coming through New York for October, and I'm thinking I will need to be there! Let's grab a drink and shake it...


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