Spencer Mackenzie  Preach to My Soul  Gypsy Soul

“Preach to My Soul”, Spencer Mackenzie’s third album, marks a giant step in the still young (22) musician’s career.  Coming four years after his much praised “Cold November” album (released when he was just 18 years old) Spencer’s songwriting, vocals and guitar playing all display continued growth and maturity – which has led to the creation of an album that can stand with the best of contemporary blues releases.

Spencer establishes the power of his delivery quickly. The opening track “Baptized By Cold Water”  begins with a steady drum beat, a little controlled feedback, and wash of organ before Spencer’s guitar establishes the song’s memorable chorus melody. The song, a strong blues-rocker with a hint of gospel (supported with soulful backing vocals by Chantal Williams), serves to pull the listener into the authoritative feel of the album. 

“No Good”, the album’s second track is built around a blues riff that sounds like it could have come from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – or even early Aerosmith – and is held together by Spencer’s commanding vocals and guitar.   “Preach To My Soul”, the album’s title track, slows things down to a soulful groove that lets Spencer demonstrate the strength of his voice and his commanding solo guitar.

“Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog Anymore”  a mid-temp blues featuring Spencer’s guitar and voice swathed in Miles Evans’s Hammond Organ  – delivers a dramatic plea to be released from a relationship gone wrong.

“Test Drive” and “Can’t Do Right” are tight, up-tempo tracks that lead into Spencer’s rendition of Paul Simon’s “Paranoia Blues” (from Simon’s 1972 eponymous debut solo album). This take, featuring guest Steve Strongman on lead guitar,  brings Simon’s song to the delta, with slap-back echoed vocals, slide and piano bringing the swamp to the listener.   

“Your Turn To Cry” adds horns to the mix, bringing an uptown soul feel to the proceedings.

“Two Doves” is a piano based ballad supported by acoustic guitar – proving Spencer’s bonafides as a singer and songwriter.

The album closer, “Battle From Within” begins with a Allman Brothers’ style guitar introduction before becoming a mid-tempo southern-rock styled anthem about internal struggle and the search for relief in a world that “keeps on hurting”

“Preach To My Soul” is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.  It is filled with strong melodies (8 of the 10 tracks are Mackenzie originals), varying tempos, arrangements that hold the listeners’ attention and – most importantly – Spencer Mackenzie’s confident vocals and always engaging lead guitar. (Glenn Smith)