Imagine this: You're a piano player from St. Louis, who migrates to New York to make it big. You become an in-demand session player, and none other than Tony Visconti — David Bowie's producer! — hires you to play on the demos for what would become Bowie's final album, Blackstar. Bowie himself even asks about your availability to tour the album upon its release in early 2016.
Unfortunately, Jack Spann never had the opportunity to tour with Bowie, but he pays homage to the man on his second solo CD, Beautiful Man from Mars — a quirky album on which Spann plays keys, piano, guitar and bass. The Bowie influences are obvious from the beginning, not only in the album's title and the leadoff title track, but also in Spann's vocal delivery. Sure, the Joe Jackson, Billy Joel and Ben Folds references from Spann's outstanding 2016 debut Time, Time, Time, Time, Time are still there, but you can hear Ziggy Stardust floating in and out of these new songs, too.
A metronomic piano line, shuffling drums and Spann's dark delivery make "Time" an early highlight here, while the feel-good, guitar-free "Songman" bounces along with encouragement for anyone who ever dreamed of making music. A lonely electric guitar accentuates the sorrow of "She Makes Pornography on the Weekend," and the farcical "Snooty Acres" comes with a melody that will linger longer than you'd like. "Jack Around" is a mostly instrumental ditty that shows off Spann's skills.
Milwaukee-based producer Gary Tanin (Daryl Stuermer, Roger Powell) contributes keyboards on most songs.
If you're in the mood for something fresh and charming but wholly serious and worthy of your time, Spann's the man.
1) Beautiful Man from Mars
4) She Makes Pornography on the Weekend
6) Fear or Loyalty
7) Deep Inside
8) I'm a Bird
9) Snooty Acres
10) Mars in Twilight
11) Just Another Version of You
12) Jack Around
13) Man from Mars Reprise