Singer-songwriter and musician Jack Spann is prepping to drop a new album on July 26th. It’s titled simply, Propaganda Man. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
A St. Louis native, Spann is an established New York musician. His keyboard work has been in demand in the Big Apple for years now. His studio work is perhaps best exemplified by his contributions to the demos for David Bowie’s final new release, Blackstar.
Spann has also performed live on Broadway in such shows as Hank Williams: Lost Highway and War Horse. He says: “I came to New York [in1999] hoping to break into the music business but I kept getting, accidentally, these theatre jobs.”
His rockin’ resume also includes 2 previous solo servings of Spann. His signature sound is a musical mix of multiple genres, including blues, country, and rock.
Two years in the making, Propaganda Man is Spann’s third and newest full-length solo outing. It features Spann on vocals, piano, keyboard, guitars, and bass. He is backed by Cecil Robbington (drums), and co-producer Gary Tanin (additional keyboards).
This album has a new thematic focus for Spann. On it, he touches upon social concerns and issues. On social media Spann also acknowledges the obvious influences on this release including that of David Bowie and The Beatles. Spann adds: “I’m influenced by everything, and I have a knack of picking up at least one lick or idea from everything I play or listen to.”
Track by track
This 12-track album of all original material opens on the titular “Propaganda Man.” It is destined to be vintage Spann. While this is just the start of his audio opining on the media, his signature sound is still immediately evident.
“Rage In The Garden” connects the contemporary with the biblical. An early fan fave, this one is somehow vaguely reminiscent of that decades-old Jersey Sound. The next number is “All Go Together.” It provides another unique example of Spann’s personal perspective on a familiar subject.
“Her Majesty” is a clever tribute to Abbey Road-era Beatles. It nevertheless remains totally original, inspired but not at all derivative. It just plain works.
“She’s My Love Line” to some might bring to mind Billy Joel or even Ray Charles. Yet underneath it, all is something more akin to Todd Rundgren or maybe lesser-known Steely Dan. Whatever is really going on, Spann is enjoying himself.
He appropriately slows things down a bit here with “Your Lullaby.” It was co-written with A. Vaaler. “Sing Your Own Song” references some great advice from Spann’s grandfather. Sure, Mama Cass expressed this sentiment decades ago but Spann does it better and with a personal touch to boot.
“When Joe Sings” is a clever cut. At its simplest level, it is quite fun and should work for everyone. After all, don’t we all have a friend like Joe?
The exceptional “Marry The Flag” follows. It’s an interesting song with enough humor to overcome any potential underlying personal political commentary. “Dead Man’s Clothes” is next. Another early fan fave, and another example of Spann’s capabilities.
“Shut The Door” is a fittingly placed piece as the album is now winding to a close. His signature sound remains both strong and steady. The apt album endnote, “Good Night Lullaby” is a lovely, peaceful instrumental. No tech tricks or statements just noteworthy music.
While some may see this platter as a personal push against corporate programming and political spin, it is truly much more than that. Overall, the album is a fine example of how Spann has created his own personal musical melange that is both fluid, expansive and reliably entertaining. So check out Jack Spann’s Propaganda Man, because it could very well inspire you to Sing Your Own Song.”