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Sperry Alan – Raw With Intent – Album Review

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Last November I drove a buddy of mine from Ottawa, Ontario to Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, I wouldn’t expect you to know where that is but it’s not too far off the beaten path from Halifax, and even a bit farther still from Truro. Afterwards I took it upon myself to drive solo through the Maritimes, I wanted to see, feel, taste, and hear the culture of my country’s eastern most costal cities. It is with that accreditation that I tell you, Sperry Alan is the Maritimes and his pending LP Raw With Intent is what they sound like. Slated for an April 29 release, the 16-track album is the third from John Alan Sperry under the moniker, and it reiterates his position as singer-songwriter-storyteller.

“Discount Fidl’r” starts the journey off with a lively, instrumental track, setting a small town folk rock tone, with hints of punk and also Celtic music woven into the wordless story. “Parade of Love” follows up with an upbeat tune sung in an accent that you wouldn’t be able to place unless you’ve heard it spoken at its origin. “Sing On Chorus” has an interesting staccato vibe that hears voice and guitar convey their thoughts simultaneously. “The Scholar” is a stand out for catchy chorus and instrumentation that veers more into the alternative side of the musical spectrum. Followed by a track that sounds like Dallas Green could have written it, “Roger’s Waters” brings a lap guitar-laced interlude for the listener’s delight.

“Old Friend” is my favourite tune of the bunch with a big acoustic guitar sound, the tone of which teases Jimmy Page at its most complex peak. “Birthright” will surely make it’s way into Maritime folklore as praise is heaped onto the “lively island” and instrument strings tease pastoral values. “Wake Up Alive (Wim Hof)” rewards the listeners for sticking it out to the end with an introspective track sporting voice samples. Finally we say goodbye to Sperry Alan with “Chin Up” and even after 16 songs you still can’t help but want more. The finale track brings in just a touch of sax, almost haunting the song as the album winds down to its final notes.

After listening to the record I feel like I’ve had a beer with John Alan Sperry (or maybe some Nova Scotian rum) and the next round is on me. Sperry Alan’s Raw With Intent is a beautiful example of someone who knows his or her own limitations and can successfully self-produce an album. It doesn’t sound like the music industry, it sounds like home.


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