This EP may only contain six songs but, at 33 minutes, it is as long as many full-length albums thanks chiefly to the 12 minute Immigrant Suite. This track based on the real-life stories of three Central American kids in search of the America dream. Actually, the EP really has only five tunes since the three parts of this suite also appear as separate tracks.
Gerry Spehar is from an old Colorado pioneer family and was an archetype troubadour in the 1960s. He gave up performing to focus on a better paid day job as a banker in L.A. and to raise a family.
Spehar returned to music making as a serious venture after a break of around three decades. As a result, his songs reflect the voice of experience rather than the thoughts of some starry-eyed drifter.
On this record he addresses weighty issues of war, immigration and economic and social injustice yet also celebrates Biden's victory over Trump. Co-produced by Spehar and Paul Lacques (I See Hawks In L.A.), he is backed by instrumentalists Joe Berardi, Marc Doten and Rick Moors. There are also contributions from fiddler Gabe Witcher, guitarist Javi Ramos, trumpeter Erinn Bone and vocalist Christine Spehar.
The opening track, Lady Liberty, Day One, is a hymn to freedom and dedicated to two American icons: the "golden flame" of the Statue of Liberty and John Lewis, a giant of Civil Rights. Spehar sings of the inauguration of a new president "marking a move from hope to hate."
Laura Dean is a highly topical tune based on the real-life trauma of the healthcare workers who daily risk their lives in the current Pandemic.
In Barrier Reef a young girl struggles to reconnect with her father in Virginia. Not only is it the first part of Immigrant Suite, but the song also appeared on his previous album 'Anger Management'. Here it is a kind of companion piece to Boy and Beast, which recounts a 12-year-old boy's train ride north to find his mother in Los Angeles.
The triptych of immigrant experiences is concluded with Meet Me at the Moon which is about a grieving farm laborer who laments the death of his daughter in Guatemala.
Spehar's voice is grizzled but the sentiments are never grizzly. Humanity and community are the touchstones. Liberty and justice for all" is the slogan that appears prominently on the EP cover and the tunes are timely reminders of the need for both in these dark times.
Gerry Spehar's website