Warren McPherson (keys), Dan Boyden (drums), Jason Spooner (lead vocals, guitar) and Adam Frederick (bass). Photo by John Tully

You can always count on the Jason Spooner Band to make consistently solid records. The roots-rock/Americana act based in Portland has just released its fifth album, called “Wide Eyed,” the first since 2014’s “Chemical.”

The first single off of “Wide Eyed” is “All Things Equal.” The funky song has a lot going for it, including a sensational horn arrangement by Brian Graham, who plays baritone and alto saxophone alongside Emma Stanley’s trumpet and Jamie Colpoys’ trombone. Spooner described their contribution in a Facebook post by saying the horn section “truly turned on the lights for this track,” and I concur. “All Things Equal” has been getting airplay on several Triple A (adult album alternative) radio stations around the country.

“Wide Eyed” cover art. Image courtesy of Jason Spooner.

Spooner and I go way back. I’ve been a huge fan since 2007’s “The Flame You Follow” album, and he knows I’m a sucker for a slow acoustic tune. So he sent me the song “Stratosphere,” and with McPherson’s just-right piano, it’s gorgeous. Spooner said that the song started out about a relationship that was ending but shifted focus after a visit to his father on Cape Cod. At the time, Rick Spooner, who passed away in June, was battling cancer, and he told his son that he could no longer do many of the things he loved and that he was “mourning the man that I used to be.” Spooner finished the song that weekend. “I packed my bags as soon as I got wise/But there’s no pretense in a child’s eyes/And it makes no sense when you make believe/But there’s no pain like when a father leaves.”

“Backyard Blues” is another can’t-go-wrong track. Spooner’s voice packs a bluesy punch, and McPherson’s keys and Frederick’s bass give the tune an extra charge.

“Painted Lady” is a keen example of Spooner’s knack for writing lyrics. “She told me there’s a million ways to sell your soul/From the stock market ticker to the stripping pole/But there’s a singular answer to the truth you seek/That the devil looks a lot like you and a lot like me.” Spooner cites this one as an example of the collaborative process that often happens with the band, especially since they have their own studio to work in. “It started as a little instrumental thing that just happened one evening. I saved it onto my phone and listened to it the following day on my way up to ski in the mountains.” While on that trip, he came up with the melody and the story, and the band played it at its next rehearsal. “The keeper take was the second time we ever played the song. Sometimes that initial energy is there, and you’re able to capture it.”

Jason Spooner. Photo by Nicole Wolf

Spooner is a Connecticut native who has lived in Maine since 1991. He picked up his first guitar early on during his teenage years and started playing open mics. “I was always into literature and poetry when I was growing up, and writing songs sort of germinated from there,” he said. Spooner started playing in bands while in high school and college (at Colby), and after graduation he started performing solo around New England.

Spooner told me that his father’s extensive collection of vinyl and 8-track tapes led to a significant connection with music at an early age. Some of the artists in Spooner’s ears during those years were Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Jim Croce, Bill Withers, Simon & Garfunkel, Gladys Knight, Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor. “I think early exposure to this treasure trove of both amazing music and amazing writing made me realize just what a powerful art form it was. Songs were the source of pretty serious revelations for me when I was a kid and really inspired my imagination.” Spooner said he was amazed by how so much could be said during a 3- to 4-minute song.

Spooner said he chose “Wide Eyed” as the name of the latest album for two reasons. The first one speaks to the band’s collective enjoyment of the process of making music organically for the album. It reminded him of the enjoyment he got out of writing songs for the first time and how the purity of that experience is similar to the discoveries made during childhood. “Being wide eyed about life in general and rediscovering the sense of magic that can be lost is probably something everyone could do more of,” he explained. It’s also a reference to the headspace of the country and the intense level of political polarization. “With the flood of information coming at people every day, we seem to have drifted into somewhat of a cultural cruise control where we’re not really processing the full picture anymore and are not listening to all sides of an issue or conflict.” Spooner said he likes the dual meaning of innocence and discovery versus what he referred to as the “conformist zombie that is so easy to slip into.”

The end result? A terrific album start to finish. Spooner and his band will be playing all of the songs from “Wide Eyed” at its Stone Mountain Arts Center album release show on Oct. 4, when it will also become available on digital platforms.

Jason Spooner Band ‘Wide Eyed’ Album Release Show
8 p.m. Oct. 4. Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dugway Road, Brownfield, $20. stonemountainartscenter.com

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