Spafford: For Amusement Only
When a bunch of jamband fans get together, eventually, they will start to debate what the scene’s “next generation” will look like. These days, the smart money is on Spafford, an Arizona-based quartet who have grown by leaps and bounds since their inception in 2010. The band’s second proper studio album For Amusement Only finds them in an interesting position. The album mostly consists of material that’s already been road-tested and refined, retroactively creating studio versions of songs that their increasingly large fanbase already know quite well. The reggae-fied album opener “Leave the Light On” has been part of the Spafford’s live repertoire since 2012—on Halloween 2017, the band even welcomed
Matisyahu onstage for a version of the tune. “Mind’s Unchained” and closer “Todd’s Tots” have also been hailed as standout live tracks, with countless versions floating around the internet and traded among “Spaffnerds.” However, the album does contain a few surprises. There are two completely new originals on For Amusement Only : “Fuel” and “When it Falls.” The first takes Brian Moss’ sharp guitar-rock riffs and boils them down to cerebral self-reflection, with the lyric “Be honestly anything you want to be.” “When It Falls,” on the other hand, is a certified party-jam, with an Umphrey’s McGee-style prog-rock breakdown that suits the band very well; Moss, keyboardist Andrew “Red” Johnson and bassist Jordan Fairless blend their instruments together seamlessly. After the 2017 addition of drummer Cameron Laforest, the Spafford sound on this release is watertight without feeling overworked. In summation: For Amusement Only gives Spafford fans both old and new a blueprint. Its studio tracks are true to the live versions—not restrained—but cleaned up and ready to be amplified.