Arizona-based jammers, Spafford released their electrifying new EP The Gaff Tapes at the beginning of this month and it kicks! The five-track collection ranges in a blend of styles, including rock, reggae, jazz, blues, ska, funk and electro-pop. Humbly speaking, the most attractive thing about this EP is how excited it gets me to see these guys do their thing live! Spafford has stayed true to their unique and uplifting groove. Gaff Tapes is a mix of the many sounds, influences and styles that the band has become known for; it’s about as organic and as ‘Spafford’ as it gets.
The cool thing about this EP is that it tells of a journey that all of us music-lovers can recognize and connect with. Despite where we’re from, we’re headed towards those sultry strings, down-tempo drums, bopping baselines and killer keys. Spafford comments, “The entirety of the project is a journey through life as seen through the eyes of people who have lived very different lives, yet found a common thread through music. We poured our souls into creating something we’re all proud of — something that we hope speaks to the people who will listen to it.” This idea that music feeds and nourishes us all is well embedded in Spafford’s art — and we get it!!
‘Gaff Tapes’ is a mix of the many sounds, influences and styles that the band has become known for; it’s about as organic and as ‘Spafford’ as it gets.
The first track on the EP, “Be Strange”, should be added to the ever-growing list of anthems for letting your freak flag fly. Be you, be weird and don’t worry about the expectations we feel from society. Lines like “you follow your heart, so your head won’t sway” make this ‘love-yourself-for who-you-are’ song super powerful.
“Comfortable” is groovy and retro, which parallels so sublimely with the electric, punchy drum-heavy 90s style of “Doghouse”. And, somehow, because these are experienced flow artists, you sail straight into the track “Smooth, Relax, Down”, which is breezy, with romantic melodies and mellow vibes. Overall, the EP does an amazing job of bringing audiences through many emotions and the various reasons we all run to music as an escape.
Spafford is known for their astonishing improvisational ability, which they’ll use to play live, off-the-cuff extended jams — which, unfortunately, can’t be fully captured on one EP. However, The Gaff Tapes has such an electric, high-energy feel to it; the lack of long, funky jams doesn’t make it any less fun.
Every show is a sonic pilgrimage — the journey of a team.
If you, like me, live for a long, funky, improvised jams, downloading or streaming The Gaff Tapes will make you even more excited to catch a Spafford show, ASAP. The band just kicked off their Fall Into Place Tour on October 3rd. I, for one, can’t wait to hear some of these tunes live, because I can already imagine how they blend and evolve with wild improvs in between!
Spafford paints a picture in real time each night with a musical palette known only to each other. It’s a private language, comprised of their talent as musicians. The group is in high demand at music festivals like Bonnaroo and Firefly, while consistently playing sold out shows across the United States. Every show is a sonic pilgrimage — the journey of a team.
Do yourself a favor and have a twirl to Spafford around a fest’s dance floor, catch them on tour or have a free-spirited bedroom jam (like I did!). Download or stream The Gaff Tapes on digital platforms below or check www.spafford.net for tour information and tickets.
Purchase or stream The Gaff Tapes EP:
- Be Strange
- Smooth, Relax, Down
- Pretty Mama
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.