What a pleasure to hear from Steve Spurgin again. Spurgin, probably best-known from his work with the supergroup California (which included Byron Berline, Dan Crary, John Hickman, and John Moore) and later with Sawmill Road, is a topnotch singer and first-rate songwriter and Past Perfect is a showcase for both talents.
Spurgin wrote ten of the twelve songs here, and they sound simultaneously old and fresh. As a songwriter, Spurgin is a storyteller extraordinaire in the Tom T. Hall tradition—a seemingly rare talent these days. Spurgin’s songs bring his all-too-believable characters to life—from the moonshiner in “Fire On The Kettle” to “The Walkin’ Boss,” who you don’t want to find yourself working for, and the girl attracted a bit too much to the “Lights Of Reno,” ultimately leading the storyteller to an unfortunate end. But, even as things turn out badly for the subject, Spurgin’s comfortable baritone vocal lends warmth to the songs, and his catchy melodies beg for repeated listening.
Ably supported by a terrific cast of musicians—Jens Krüger on banjo, brother Uve Krüger on guitar, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, and Rusty Holloway on bass—the songs on Past Perfect just sparkle. Topnotch players all, they deliver tasteful and understated support to this delightful collection of songs. This is a recording of uncommon class and elegance. (Blue Night Records, 4860 Kopper Pond Rd, Hanover, IL 61041, www.bluenightrecords.com.) AWIII