This Portland, Maine native sounds like he just stepped out of Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, circa late 1966/’67 with an album ready to go for Dunhill Records and produced by Lou Adler with help on the songs from Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson. Throw in a little splash of Harry Nilsson-isms and you’ve got one hell of an album on your hands. The thing is, Spencer Albee is now and he’s doing all of this on his own and with a loose aggregate of players known as The League of Bandsmen. All of these elements together help weave a very tight and coherent album in Love Is Not Enough.
From the opening kick of the infectious “I Don’t Know”, you’re immediately brought into another mindspace; one of “I know I’ve heard this before but yet it sounds new”. And when you can affect that thought, you’re doing something more than right. “So Long”, with its grand opening and strident piano body has wonderfully witty and wry lyrics and angelic backing “ooh-ooh-ooh”‘s and is an absolute standout; “California’s Calling” has an XTC-ness about it as does “Gretchen My Captain” but doesn’t go off into those obtuse and angular chord structures Partridge and company tend to do; the songs maintain their straightforward popness. “Sleighjacking” is acoustic-based with a slightly-Latin feel and a warm keyboard undertone on this tribute to the Yuletide and “Big Old House” is a neat sing-along with harmonies in a countrified vein.
Having Love Is Not Enough as my first musical encounter with Spencer Albee makes me hope there’s more to come and soon. This album is seriously not enough, especially in this new year.
Love Is Not Enough is available now