It’s not a bluegrass band. Although the name might mislead you, it’s obvious from the first note that high and lonesome is not their thing. But once you’ve determined what SpencerAcuff isn’t, getting a handle on what it is ain’t that easy. Opening cut “Far From Here” on Chasing Windmills could have been taken from a U2 album. Anthemic and bombastic with Edge chords chiming alongside, behind, over and around an impassioned Bono vocal, the song sets you up for a session of arena rock.
But it’s not to be. For the second cut, “Say to Me,” is a complete change of pace, a Michael Stipe vocal laid over a hard-driving rock framework. “Hard Enough” is yet another changeup, featuring a hint of The Cure, a Robert Smith-style lead vocal backed by power chords and gorgeous four part harmony. “Aftercare” is another exercise in that glorious harmony that these guys major in, punctuated by a U2 guitar line that keeps building. “New Horizon” could have come off a Green Day album. A little further along in the disc, “North Shore” is folky, country-tinged Americana.
It’s a far cry from the group’s ’03 debut, Moment Golden, when SpencerAcuff consisted only of founders David Spencer and Will Acuff. The duo’s sound was acoustic with a folkier edge, prompting one critic to dub them the all-male Indigo Girls. But with the addition of drummer Tommy Perkinson and bassist Jeff Crawford, the group became rockers.
Though the band isn’t hung up on the labeling process, SpencerAcuff is wary of being lumped in the pop category, home to Britney Spears and things of that ilk. “I wouldn’t describe us as trite, formulated pop at all,” Spencer says. There’s not much danger of that. Chasing Windmills shows a band secure enough to be chameleons, mixing the old and new into a pleasing premium blend that’s high on octane and low on gunk, ensuring that this engine will continue to run smoothly for the life of the vehicle.