Jason Spooner's third album Sea Monster is a little like floating placid waters in a luxury vessel. As a whole, the experience is warm, comfortable, relaxing—and not terribly exciting. Although it adds up to a pleasant time, you might catch yourself hoping that the eponymous monster shows up to wreak some musical havoc.
But ruckus doesn't seem to be Spooner's priority. Combining the easy-going swagger of a guitar-wielding beach bum with the smooth, coffee-and-cream vocals of an R&B balladeer, he maintains an often mellow, always measured tone on the album with an effective combination of acoustic and electric guitar. Even more bombastic inclusions like a drawling blues harmonica or a horns section do little to raise the heart rate.
That philosophy follows through in the writing, too. Spooner is a gifted lyricist, but even the album's darker inclusions lack urgency. "Conspiracy Here"—a lyrical catalogue of our modern troubles—is rendered particularly toothless by the album's tone. Good thing Spooner seems to be an optimist, since the album consistently turns toward the positive. Sometimes you do want a rocky voyage. Other times you just want to kick back, and that's what Sea Monster does best.
Jason Spooner plays the Top Hat Friday, Jan. 7, at 8 PM with The Lil' Smokies and the Bridger Creek Boys. Cover TBA.