Raw With Intent will be the third album release for Truro, Nova Scotia resident John Alan Sperry a.k.a, Sperry Alan. Opening with a precision guitar flare that echoes with the sound of country rock, I was expecting a continuation of a hair raising twang, but was surprised (not to my disappointment) with a taste of the East Coast. A decadent mix of folk and alternative rock, Sperry has mustered a combination that leaves you with the nostalgia of a Moosehead beer commercial—all the images a traditional East Coast party. This album has all the heel tapping rhythm and off-kilter cadence you would expect from quintessential Canadian rock music. I could easily find myself sweating it out at a local pub with a few chums, beer in hand, lost in the myriad of sounds, but I digress…
The single Spring Time, which is currently available for preview on Sperry’s website, is like being invited into someone’s home for conversation. While it is not my favourite track on the album, the simplicity of his lyrics speak of more than just losing his shoes and walking through the park. His lament of “Oh I love it, and its touch. I’m so happy I made it” seems more like a story of triumph. A contrast to his last album, which was dedicated to overcoming his thoughts of suicide and emotional hardships, this song seems to emulate self-progress.
Raw with Intent is rightly named as Sperry doesn’t just sing to his audience. He communicates with them, stirring up his listeners. I enjoy his ability to organically describe daily life while musically giving an entirely different inflection. The words are just the husk. There are so many more layers to peel away. On one side, it encompasses that familiarity you get when you turn on the radio and hear your favourite song. On the other side is rich lyrical content that breaks through the monotony of everyday life and its struggles.
For first-time listeners, I would recommend the stand out tracks Old Friend and Float Home (Take Flight) as both offer enticing, upbeat, guitar and drum progressions. Amid the track list you can also find seductive interludes that almost divide the songs into new sections, inviting you into the new ambience that Sperry has created.
In short, Sperry has a sound reminiscent of your typical 90’s Alternative Rock band; all jangly guitar and devil-may-care vocals comparable to Violent Femmes, mixed with and the musical composition of The Counting Crows and Semisonic. Most of the songs linger in the mid-tempo range. At times it creates a muddled sway that fades into background noise, while other tracks offer a progression of sounds and lyrical compositions that keeps you wanting more. Raw With Intent drops on April 29th.