Rick Spreitzer,
(self-produced, 2003)

Singer-songwriter Rick Spreitzer has finally reached one of his long-time goals: to release a CD. With guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica, Meanderthal has definite folk appeal. While the music by itself is quite pretty, the lyrics can oftentimes be a little offbeat, as you will read when I describe some of the songs.

Rick plays guitar, harmonica and sings on Meanderthal. He's backed up by Aaron Brindle on banjo, Mike Strauss on guitar and Steven Carpenter on mandolin. Jill Lurie provides backing vocals.

Personally, I do not care for Rick's voice. Sometimes it is OK, but just as often, it is flat, monotone and slightly off key. However, the harmony between Rick and Jill is rather sweet. Fortunately, Jill backs Rick up quite a bit.

The song that has most grabbed my attention out of 14 tracks is "Mama's Prison." When I first heard the song, I thought he was singing about being grounded from a teenager's perspective. After hearing "I spent 9 months in my mama's prison. / A sentence with no chance of parole. / I ain't never even talked to my lawyer. / And then one day they just snatched me from the hole," it finally dawned on me that he was talking about being born.

In "Late Night Rant," Rick compares the truth to a rotten tooth. Eventually, they both have to come out. The singer's life is in chaos and he is ranting about what he hates. It makes you wonder if Rick is simply writing tunes or if he is exorcising his own demons. Let us hope it is the former, or this man is in a lot of pain.

The theme of loathing life is continued in many of the songs including "Drinking By Myself." With lyrics like "They say he died for our sins. / I'll tell you what's a sin, my friend. / I'm on my last bottle of gin. / I don't get paid 'til Saturday...." I tend to ignore the singing and focus on the melody. Like most of the tracks, the music is great. It has crossed my mind more than once that it is too bad that this isn't an instrumental CD.

I'm torn between recommending Meanderthal or telling you to skip it. I do not care for the lyrics. Rick's singing is nothing to get excited about. But the music is nice and Jill's backing vocals are notable. Perhaps these four should form a band, Jill should become lead vocalist and Rick can back her up.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 22 November 2003

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