Spencer Elliot: SE3

Spencer Elliott
(CandyRat Records)

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Spencer Elliott’s strummed and echoey acoustic breaks into the free-flying groove of “Torque,” the opener on his new album SE3. Along with drummer Chris Hudson and bassist Sean Sydnor, Elliott noodles around his guitar expertly on this opener, still giving his band plenty of room.

The lushness of a stop-and-go “Joystick” again showcases the fine players here as they weave around Elliot’s deep melodic lines. In this one, I feel his guitar playing touches Leo Kottke territory, the way he handles his acoustic. Fine, fine stuff indeed from the West Virginia-based player.

Although most of these eleven tracks groove well for me, when Sydnor gets popping on “4:20,” I have to say the trio had me more than ever (and they had me throughout the six before). This one just gives rise to all the players on top of their kinetic game, again with Sydnor’s bass providing the glue.

Another great tune on an instrumental album full of them.

“The Wolf and The Hawk” is slower than most, with Elliott using his strumming harmonics to the fore, and there’s an almost melancholy melody to the rimshot-led grooving. “There’s Something in the Airlock,” though, coming right after and ending SE3, is wholly different, seeing Elliott sparkling at the beginning with quick picking, then the tune lifts off into maybe the best riff-tastic moment on the album. Hudson pops wild on a tight-sounding snare, Sydnor wrestles his bass into submission in the most melodic of ways, and Elliott makes his fingers sing as the band end SE3 with a true hold-onto-the-overhead-straps workout.

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