Spare Souls are making their debut with this five-song EP, coming out of the New England coffeehouse scene. I wouldn’t have been surprised if you’d told me they had come from Nashville. The band is certainly dealing in some country and roots music elements that sometimes seem filtered though the lens of Led Zeppelin. At the end of the day though the Spare Souls EP has a generic rock feel, and functions almost more as a proof of skill than an artistic statement.
“Me You Stole” leads off the collection with the aforementioned Zeppelin worship, especially in the vocal part. The drums don’t have a lot of life, which is understandable given the band’s acoustic performance background, so the song relies on that vocal part for its dynamic movement. I do like the organ, which adds a little depth to the bluesy stomp in the high register. Out of the EP’s five tracks, “Me You Stole” seems most like a sign of the path Spare Souls is taking, moving from open mic balladeering towards a fuller rock sound.
“Electric Hearts” brings some pedal steel guitar into play, and the 3/4 sway ends up making for a solid take on the dusty country waltz. There’s not a lot of variety though; it seems to me this would work better in a shorter format, especially since it’s the same chord progression all the way through. The solo broke things up nicely, and might have been a nice note to end on.
“Out of Space” leans on a Mellotron as its backbone, putting the drums away for a dreamier vibe. The gentleness works well against the tracks with bolder sounds, showing a little more of the group’s depth. The runtime is still a bit long, though I think it’s more worthwhile here than on “Electric Hearts.”
Strangely, the closer “Rid the Demons” uses almost the same Zeppelin template as “Me You Stole.” This track shakes itself up more often, constantly building as it moves forward; I get the sense this is their take on a “Stairway to Heaven” slow-burn. The guitar work is nice, though I was expecting a burlier solo. “Rid the Demons” concludes the Spare Souls EP with a similar sound to its opener, but in the end, it doesn’t feel like we’ve gone too far out of the comfort zone.
As the first few recorded songs of the project, I expect that Spare Souls has used this EP to figure out exactly where they want to go. They can either try to stay on the softer side of proceedings, and move even further into the Americana style they teased with the pedal steel guitar, or push towards even headier and heavier rock n’ roll flair. The Spare Souls EP shows that they can do all of these things with talent, but ultimately needs more common threads between them. Once they’ve got a more cohesive sound in place, I think they’ll make something really sweet.
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