The One Who's Leavin'
Great Neck Music, 2007
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/12/2007
Doug Spartz is about hope and good music.
Spartz is a 64-year-old independent artist who has had two heart attacks and a bout with cancer. Despite these physical setbacks, he continues to create polished, original music and is a rare independent artist who has made appearances on the charts. A country artist with a touch of bluegrass mixed in, Spartz also has forayed into rock, all with strong results.
The One Who’s Leavin’ is a well-done album. The production is crisp and clear and the packaging is of major-label quality. None of this would matter if the song weren't uniformly strong, however, and fortunately they are, both the covers and Spartz's originals.
“Risky World” leads off the album and sets the tone for many of the 19 songs that follow. Excellent vocals and the use of fiddle against a country rock background carry the piece. Other originals include “Tombstone Mansion,” which is basic Southern rock again a brass background, with an excellent guitar solo uniting the two halves of the song. “All Is Well” is a biting commentary on the subject of war told in an uptempo country tune. “The Flight Of Jesse James” is classic bluegrass country with a steel guitar leading the way, while “Pederson & Jesus” is a country anti-gospel song that is clever without being trite. Finally “Talkin’ Americana Blues” is a take off on the old "Talkin’ Vietnam Blues” song but with a lyric change in a humorous biographical direction.
The cover songs on The One Who’s Leavin’ are spottier, keeping this from getting a higher grade. The most interesting is the Glen Campbell song “Galveston.” Spartz takes the song in a rock direction with a dominant drum and bass beat. However, his take on the Beatles' “Golden Slumbers” is a rare miss, never settling into one style and just nto working. Two Dylan tunes -- “Ring Them Bells” and “Forever Young” -- are OK but add nothing new to the originals.
Yet overall, The One Who’s Leavin’ is an excellent album. Many independent artists are trying to define themselves and their music; at 64, Spartz knows who he is and appears comfortable with that fact. He is also smart enough not to exceed his talent or capabilities.
Doug Spartz ends The One Who’s Leavin’ with a humorous rendition of “All The Young Dudes,” which is about aging and ends with a heart monitor beeping. Given his recent history, this is not only a funny but an ironic finish to a disc that's well worth seeking out.