It's a scary proposition putting an earnest 18-year-old in the studio with a savvy producer and a bunch of players who not only feed their families with their licks, but feed them well. But this is where we find Georgia phenom Spencer Durham, parked in a studio in Lawrenceville, Georgia, with super sidemen like Randall Bramblett (Traffic, Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic), ace drummer/producer Gerry Hansen and Southern guitar slinger Wayne Causey. Pretty heady stuff for a teenager, but Durham is humble enough to write in his liner notes, "Thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn from the best."
Just as a bunch of young players in Texas grow up on Billy Joe Shaver, Joe Ely and Bob Wills, young pickers in Georgia grow up on Black Crowes, Allman Brothers and Skynyrd. Soulful young Durham's Much More Than Words is full of Chris Robinson vocal influence, Allman guitar tones and Georgia funk. Durham also writes his own material, and some songs, such as "Super Like a Nova," are out there in magic territory. When Durham learns to nail every song like this, it's "move over, Dave Matthews and John Mayer" time. Material such as "Without a Doubt" and "She Doesn't Know" is immense and, coupled with Durham's admitted advanced accomplishment for his age, should have major labels circling like vultures.
On the downside, there's a problem with being 18: You're 18. There is, inevitably, some material he can't sell even with an ace studio band. Durham comes close, but I'm not sure any 18-year-old can convincingly deliver a line like "that evil-hearted woman done crept away up inside of my mind / I can tell by the way she walks she ain't the lovin' kind," but here again Durham deserves credit just for making the try. On Much More Than Words, positives far outweigh the few negatives, and there is every reason to think we'll be hearing from Spencer Durham for a long time.
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