Roadhouse album review: Clarence Spady returns with a strong, soulful “Surrender”

Twice in the past quarter-century, Clarence Spady has had albums that got him nominated for blues and soul awards. The first was “Nature of the Beast” in 1996, and the second was “Just Between Us” in 2008. They were also the only two albums he had ever released.

Until now.

Spady’s third album,“Surrender” has arrived (Nola Blue Records, May 21), and promises to put him back into awards territory again.

The album, just nine songs long, is still an intense personal journey, not without its own soulful pain, and as in the case of most good music, cathartic and uplifting at the same time.

The opening cut, “If My Life Was A Book,” sets the musical stage for Spady’s thoughtful blues expedition that covers work that reflects the past 20 years or so of personal struggles and music-making.

“Good Conversation” follows, penned by the track’s lead guitarist Adam Schultz; it’s an ode to the benefits of connection through — conversation. A quaint idea in this age of tweets, texts and TikTok. All of that leads into the scorching “When My Blood Runs Cold,” co-written by Judge “Lucky” Peterson, his father, James, and Steve Washington, who worked with both Petersons for many years. “K-Man” is another exercise in reflection, but upbeat in flavor, this time with a song he wrote in memory of his late son, Khalique.

“Surrender” is at once soulful and spiritual, with the title telling the story. An acoustic version of the Z.Z. Hill chestnut “Down Home Blues” (written by the talented George Jackson) is stunning in its down-home blues simplicity. 

Three previously unreleased live tracks conclude the album — all recorded at the River St. Jazz Café in Plains, Pa., in 1999, not too far from Spady’s home in Scranton, Pa. “Addiction Game,” the 10-minute-plus Spady original  instrumental “Jones Falls Expressway” and “Pick Me Up.”

This is a fine album. Its filled with great Spady vocals, crackling arrangements and excellent musicianship. It’s made even better knowing how much of it is a deeply personal statement, and how it’s fueled by the life and times of Clarence Spady.

Do yourself a favor and absorb it. 

Here’s Lucky Peterson with “My Blood Runs Cold”:

Here’s Clarence Spady with the title track, “Surrender”:

“Surrender” Track List
1. If My Life Was A Book
2. Good Conversation
3. When My Blood Runs Cold
4. K-Man
5. Surrender
6. Down Home Blues
7. Addiction Game
8. Jones Falls Expressway
9. Pick Me Up

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