Artist: Jack Spann
Album: Beautiful Man from Mars
Label: Big Boo Music/OARFIN/Alliance
Release Date: 6.16.17
In need of assistance in bringing his masterful curtain call Blackstar to life, David Bowie turned to Jack Spann, at the behest of producer Tony Visconti. Playing on the album’s demos, the keyboardist, a founding member of the St. Louis group Vitamin A before moving to New York City, must have made an impression, as Bowie is said to have inquired about his availability to tour. Then, fate stepped in and ruined everything.
Spann has made his own Hunky Dory, as his second full-band release Beautiful Man from Mars at least shares in the inheritance of the colorful, piano-driven musical theatrics and luxurious pop artistry of Bowie’s 1971 classic. With spacey sonic debris flying in the background and its light acoustic guitar strum and lush instrumentation, the stylish and sublime title track is an impeccably dressed alien that inspires wonder. More down to earth and empathetic, with its vaudevillian mix of woe-begotten jazz and blues, “She Makes Pornography on the Weekend” tells of a single mother sitting on the horns of a financial and moral dilemma, and like the deep, intoxicating “Lies” and the urgent, dramatic “Time” it has aspirations of appearing some day on Broadway.
Sweeping compositions such as “Fear or Loyalty” give Beautiful Man from Mars a cinematic quality, while “Songman” is the kind of jaunty pop that Ben Folds might have banged out in the early days. It’s this diversity of arrangements and textures that makes Beautiful Man from Mars a welcome visitor from a strange place.