Hero Hill Review

Jason Spooner is an artist you'd go see every Tuesday with a bunch of friends. Or maybe his set is the one you'd walk by at a Folk Festival and actually stop and listen. He's got a lot of different styles, all of which end up in that hippie-friendly mishmash of acoustic, funk, organ. The thing that helps him stand out from every other person trying that style is the nice flow of his vocals and strength of his lyrics. He never views his words as an after thought, and uses nice wordplay and a sense of humor when needed.

Spooner has made the transition from a solo artist to a man with a band, and the progression really helps. The record uses instrumentation to beef up most of the tracks, but he never loses the sincerity you need from a talented solo artist. The record jumps off with Black and Blue - a double-tracked acoustic number that slowly evolves into much more. The gentle bowed bass breaks up the riff nicely and intrigues you enough to keep listening. That's probably the best way to describe the trio - they keep you listening. None of the songs ever faded into the "background noise" trap that plagues acoustic artists.

He really finds his niche on Spaceship, a finger-picked ditty that can best be described as an homage to Peter Gabriel. The chorus is super catchy and light and Spooner's vocals float along nicely. The riff is nothing overly complex, but the band throws in organ, harmonica and accordion at the right times.

His songs never really settle into a fixed sound. He jumps from funk to acoustic to country western (Meant To Be), but the tracks never seen forced. I think Spooner has the sound that could be easily embraced by the mainstream if he got an opening spot for someone like Mayer or James Blunt (especially when you listen to The Flame You Follow and you hear the vocal similarities), but he could easily shift into the more beach friendly sounds that are making the rounds as well.

Spooner obviously likes to get people moving and he has songs that fall into the Brushfire / ALO beach vibe that make the people sway. The organs, keys and sax on Fight the Fire (and Simple Life to be honest) will make any Zach Gill fan stand up and move - especially when the Superstition-esque Hammond bounces around the track.

Some of the nicest tracks are the ones that feature Kim Taylor on backing vocals. Their voices mesh perfectly, and they are able to turn in a solid performance on the ambitious cover of Slippery People. Covering the Talking Heads is a bold decision, but I found myself settling into the song fairly easily. Kim's voice adds an almost Be Good Tanyas feel to the cover.

The production is super tight and Spooner has the talent to pull these songs off. If the right people hear this disc (like the beautiful Mirror this Morning) it could be one of those discs that explodes.