Clarence Spady

Clarence Spady
Just Between Us

Severn Records

By Rachel Lee
July 2009

Clarence Spady is a singer songwriter from Scranton, Penn., and was some years ago described by Living Blues magazine as one of the “top 40 under40 players to watch.”

For whatever reason, however, Spady fell off the recording radar and Just Between Us is Spadyís first disc in more than 10 years.

In this recording Spady has gone in a decidedly jazz-funk direction. The songs on the recording deal with personal relationships have all been penned by Spady. For me it took a few listens to try to nail down any similarities between Spadyís voice and other singers. For me he sounded a bit like Prince or Living ColorĎs Corey Glover - but with more growling involved.

The first track, “Iíll Never Sell You Out,” starts out in lounge lizard mode. The guitar pays homage to George Benson and a bit of Kenny G horn is thrown in at the end. On “Enough of You,” Spady plays a hard driving funk and sounds pretty upbeat about being dumped.

Things slow down with the title track, “Just between Us,” which is a tender soul ballad that would melt any heart on Valentineís Day.

On the next two numbers “King of Hearts” and “Wonít Be This Way Always,” he shows off his rhythmic chops. Both songs have a funky feel to them and this style seems to be Spadyís best for showing off his guitar licks.

On “Iíll Go,” Spady slows down. He makes good use of a backup female chorus to turn what starts out as a jazz pop song turns into a gospel song by the end.

On “Cut Them Loose,” the horn introduction makes me think Jay Leno will be walking onto the set any moment. Itís jazzy in a commercial way and leaves me wondering: Where are the blues songs on this recording?

Itís not until the 8th track “Be Your Enough” that I hear some classic blues. The Hammond organ is prominent and Spady shines as a blues guitarist. Frankly I wish there were more songs like this on the recording. Next is “24/7,” which is a pretty decent R&B number.

The lone instrumental on the recording is called “Email,” and itís a pretty happy guitar tune. For me it was the most interesting digression on a recording that tries to cover quite a few bases. Not exactly blues or jazz or funk, it reminds me of an early Allman Brothers piece.

From the sound of things, I would guess that the favorite part of Spadyís day is checking his e-mail.

Lastly “Candy,” featuring a prominent sax, goes back to the soft jazz style which starts the disc.

While the recording is not geared towards blues historians or purists, Spady is versatile and a good craftsmen. Listening to this didnít make me want to cry or get falling down drunk, but it could be a good recording to wake up to and start a new day.

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