Local singer/songwriter to release second album


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Local singer/songwriter Mark Spencer to release new album, "Prophets, Fools & Sages," on April 25

(Springfield, Ky.) -- Local singer/songwriter Mark Spencer will release his much-anticipated sophomore album, "Prophets, Fools & Sages," on April 25.

Spencer recently previewed tracks from the album during a special two-night concert series in Lexington and Danville and received rave reviews of the new material.

"I was so excited to play several tracks from the new CD at those shows, and I was thrilled with the response," Spencer said recently during an online interview from his Springfield home. "It's always nerve-wracking to play new material for a live audience for the first time, but I felt totally at ease at both venues. The fans were very receptive and supportive."

Spencer has also received kudos for the new album from fans via his website, www.markspencermusic.com. The site, which has logged more than 20,000 hits since going online a year ago, regularly features free downloads of new materials as well as a list of upcoming concert dates and a blog maintained by Spencer himself.

In addition, Spencer's Myspace page, www.myspace.com/markspencermusic, also offers free downloads of new tracks from the album as well as videos and a separate blog. That site already has logged more than 15,000 hits.

In light of the positive response he"s received from fans, both online and in person, Spencer has already scheduled several performances immediately following the release of the new album. He will play at 8 p.m. May 3 at The Hub in Danville and at 8 p.m. on May 10 at Main On Maple in Nicholasville. Both shows are free and open to the public.

For now, however, Spencer remains focused on the upcoming release, which heralds the culmination of two years of work in the studio and numerous hours spent writing lyrics and music arrangements.

"This album really spans a wide range of personal experiences, and many of the songs were conceived around pivotal moments in my life," the 35-year-old songwriter said. "I've also incorporated skills from all my years of playing other styles of music into the new acoustic medium, and I'm really pleased with the end result."

Although a relative newcomer to the acoustic scene, Spencer is by no means a stranger to the stage, having spent several years as lead guitarist for heavy metal band Pownd before striking out on his own musical journey.

He recalls exploring a variety of musical mediums before settling on his now-signature bluesy-acoustic rock format.

"I was always drawn to artists like Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and those influences really came to the forefront when I began compiling songs and musical arrangements for the new album," Spencer said.

In addition to the traditional acoustic sounds on the album, he noted, there are also blues and pop vibes as well.

His personal experiences as a musician playing with veterans of the live circuit also found their way into many of the song lyrics on "Prophets, Fools & Sages," and his strength as a songwriter comes through in each song as he artfully weaves tales of wonder, intrigue and lost love.

The lead track, "Danny Don't Know," tells of a musician who could have had a lasting impact in the industry but, like so many before him, was sidetracked by drugs. Based loosely on a fellow performer Spencer met years ago, the track showcases Spencer's skills as both a guitarist and a lyricist.

"Letters Home" is another example of Spencer's keen insight as he tells the saga of a musician fighting an inner battle between wanting to flee his lot in life, yet knowing he must remain where he is and continue being the man he"s become.

The ballad "Minstrel & Maiden" describes a totally different side of performing live. In rich, deep tones, Spencer tells of an encounter between a performer and his audience, and the magic he weaves through his storytelling. One of the most technically challenging tracks on the album, "Minstrel" is a complex arrangement featuring multi-layered riffs and a soaring guitar solo.

In an album full of well-orchestrated and skillfully written tracks, however, Spencer's prowess as a songwriter shines through best as he relays the heartbreaking story of a homeless veteran in the track "Ghosts of Freedom."

An acoustic ode to those who have served in the United States military forces only to come home to nothing, "Ghosts of Freedom" has been one of the best-received songs during previews of the new album, Spencer said.

"I'm angered by the sheer numbers of veterans who put themselves in danger to fight for our freedom only to come home to nothing, no home, no job, no family," Spencer said, noting that "Ghosts of Freedom" came about after seeing a story on the news about homeless veterans.

"It's unthinkable that we, as a society, could let these heroes sleep in cardboard boxes and go hungry for days on end. They put their lives on the line for us and survived, only to come home to such a bleak existence on the streets. Hopefully "Ghosts of Freedom" will help raise awareness of their plight," he added.

Also the first video from the new album, "Ghosts of Freedom" can be seen on Spencer's website, www.markspencermusic.com, as well as on Myspace and YouTube.

Other highlights on "Prophets, Fools & Sages" include:

- "So Far Away," a ballad of devotion, soft yet urgent, and a powerful message about the powerlessness of those in love when separated by distance. The track features some of the most beautiful guitar playing on the album.

- "Liars & Thieves," a deceivingly simple yet complex light acoustic ballad with a retro beatnik sound and catchy riffs and bridges. It's a tale about social hypocrites who pass judgment without reason and the effects they have on those around them.

- "Prophets, Fools & Sages," the title song from the album, is a gentle melody telling of a chance encounter with a long-lost friend and lover. Spencer blends his new acoustic sound with smooth rock undertones to create an intriguing scenario musing about what they might say, how they would feel and what might have been had they remained together.

"The 10 songs on "Prophets" cover a lot of area," Spencer said. "I've taken a new direction in my songwriting and playing, and I think that really comes through in this collection."

"It's kind of surreal to be releasing a new album, and I'm really looking forward to being able to share the new material with my fans during the upcoming shows in May," he added.

"All the venues are small, and that contributes to the element of intimacy that I feel is so important between a performer and his audience. It really gives you a chance to get up close and personal with your fans, and for me, that's the best part of performing," Spencer said.

"Prophets, Fools & Sages," produced by Spencer's recording label, AudioVice Records, will be available April 25 through a variety of retailers including www.markspencermusic.com and www.cdbaby.com as well as local music retailers and bookstores.

Additional information about Spencer's upcoming concerts and planned tour dates is available on his website, www.markspencermusic.com, and by visiting www.myspace.com/markspencermusic


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