Spirit Family Reunion – Mercury Lounge – June 15, 2012
Timing is certainly everything. And for Spirit Family Reunion, the timing seems to be just right no matter what. Friday’s Mercury Lounge show served as an album-release party; the very first, they let the crowd know. And while some bands might release their debut LP to a nearly empty room, because Spirit Family Reunion, tirelessly chugging along, has built a dedicated following, their perfectly timed party was a sold-out affair. It’s not hard to see why: Their uplifting, stripped-down Americana comes not from some ironic, cynical place, but quite clearly from their hearts and souls. It’s the perfect music for the here and now.
They opened with “Leave Your Troubles at the Gate,” seemingly transporting the crowd to an alternate universe where percussion was both invented and perfected with the washboard and music never evolved past the old-timey blend of folk, bluegrass and gospel. In this world, the harmonica is always played with Dylanesque eloquence, perfection is a ragged, imperfect thing and the crowd always claps at the right time, completely in rhythm. Through it all, there was plenty of dancing, foot stomping and hollering until the set closed with “When My Name Is Spoken.” And then the dedicated fans and the newly impassioned alike found the encore—“I’ll Find a Way,” which closes the album and probably every Spirit Family Reunion show—to be the right time for singing along. —A. Stein