Monday, March 12, 2012

CD REVIEW - Steve Spurgin - Past Perfect

By Dan King

Steve Spurgin -  Past Perfect

Blue Night Records
Released: May, 2011

There have been so many wonderful story telling songwriters emerge from the state of Texas over the years, one gets the impression that when a car dealership in the Lone Star State needs a new salesman, they just hand each applicant a pair of boxing gloves and send them out to the service bay to settle who gets the job.

I mean, it’s ASSUMED they can each spin a tale!

Texas story teller Steve Spurgin has gone more than a few rounds in many different musical divisions, including the heavyweight division as a Nashville songwriter for the likes of Gene Watson and Reba McEntire. With more than one bona fide hit record as a writer under his belt, Steve long ago proved he has the punch to be a winner in the music industry.

Past Perfect contains ten Spurgin penned compositions and two covers, including “Song For A Winter’s Night” by his old muse Gordon Lightfoot. The album features full sounding traditional bluegrass instrumentation - dobro, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and bass, as well as strong playing, great production, and Steve’s rich baritone voice. 

In fact, Mr. Spurgin’s voice is probably suited more to country than bluegrass but then there’s the rub; this isn’t your typical traditional bluegrass CD. And while it’s not exactly bluegrass, country or folk, it’s safe to say the fans of those genres will enjoy and appreciate Past Perfect, as will anyone who possesses a discerning ear.

Like a skilled boxer, Steve throws lyrical and musical punches at the listener from all angles on this recording, but rather than getting beat up, the listener winds up literally basking in the sonic whitewashing they receive. Past Perfect contains more lyrical substance in one song than most CDs feature in their entirety and Steve Spurgin has a knack for directing the flow of those lyrics like a master wordsmith.

If Mark Twain would have written songs, they very possibly would have sounded something like this.

It must be noted Past Perfect isn’t an album you can digest in one sitting. That is not to say that it is so heady as to be inaccessible, it’s just that it takes your mind on a different little journey with each tune. Pack a bag for your imagination because it’s going to be doing some travelling before this one is over.

All in all, Past Perfect is a great effort. If I were to pick a few nits, I’d say Steve tries to sing a bit too high at times, and by album’s end, the dobro gets a bit redundant, specifically with one lick that keeps re-surfacing. Both are forgivable faux pas in an otherwise artistic piece of work.

Whether or not Steve Spurgin ever applied for any sales jobs in his home state of Texas is unknown, but if he did, it’s a safe bet that no one ever sent him out to the service bay to box his way into the position. Steve Spurgin is just too good of a story teller to have to fight his way to the top of that list.

Four and a half banjo strings out of five.

I would definitely buy a used car from this man.


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