It seems as if Sequoyah has finally come into their own as a band. Spells is the album that they have been waiting to make for the better part of the last decade.
After all the hype and the touring from the “make or break” album which was Ghost Town, where do you go? You get your friend Ryan Zimmerman who only has an upside to his recording/producing career, you trash those Tennessee sessions, you go back to the farm in the heart of South Carolina and you record the album that you want to record. Then you blow the dust off all that recording in a studio in your adopted hometown of Charleston.
In a lot of ways this album sounds like a farewell and a big middle finger to record labels and everything that was the process of Ghost Town. They open up the album with “Witch of the South” which sheds any clean image that they might have created over the years and throw it out the window. When Osborne sings “When he kisses your breast” in the chorus I can only imagine that their younger female fans will have fits, but he goes on to sing about being drunk and high. This is where Sequoyah fans will either be like “hell yeah” or say “About Rain and Holy City are the best songs ever, they really messed up on this album.”
But seriously, who cares? This album is who they are. What else should we expect? “Spells” is a glimpse inside the band that hit the road, gave it a shot and lived the life that you would expect 5 guys in a rock band to live. This is their coming of age album culminating the last 4 years of being a band, struggling with faith, relationships, friendships and sound-wise it’s influenced only by what they want.
Spells is a gritty, bluesy album at times and at others it’s what you would have expected of the next Sequoyah Prep School album. Some of these songs were road tested, most of them weren’t on the regular set list. Either Sequoyah thought the songs weren’t ready, the fans might not like them or they were looking forward to the shock value. I like to think it was a little of each.
I’m not going to tell you that Spells is a better album than Ghost Town, but I’ll tip my hat to them for taking a chance on trying something new. Spells has some of their finest songs to date. “Mother Mary” is simple and perfect. “Long Winded Woman” and “Hands in the Dirt” set the tone of what the band has become.
Maybe the debut album from Sequoyah was a glimpse into the future. Maybe the weights of the Prep School were too heavy and “Suits” is the farewell that it seems to be. After an album this good, I can’t imagine this being the end.