Gerry Spehar has had a lifetime in music. Back in 2017, he released his debut album after 30 years in the business.

If that story is interesting, then he’s always managed to find something interesting in his music. Whether in the words – I mean, listen to “Tomcat” here, and you are listening to some gorgeous poetry – or in the diverse nature of his songs (take the 2022 “Delta Man” with Bobby Allison), what he does always compels.

This is why “Other Voices” was off to a winner before it started. What the man himself terms “a songwriter’s dream.”

In practice, this means a double album of his songs being played and sung by some of the finest players there are to offer. A list of the guests would fill the review, so just the singers will do: Teresa James, Dale Watson, Lisa McKenzie, Gary Lynn Floyd, and Lisa Daye.

Most of these come from late-night sessions in the 2000s, but he adds his tunes to the gorgeous and aforementioned “Tomcat” and the beautifully reflective “Pull On Your Boots” – which, given that he gave up music in the ’80s to raise a family, might have just a tinge of resonance still. The classic country-style folk of “Out Of Business Blues” has a foray into politics (his state of the union “Lady Liberty” EP from 2021 does it brilliantly), and a simply brilliant “Georgetown.”

Spehar’s five are completed by a duet with McKenzie as they take on “Normandy,” and if the release had been those as an EP, it would have been stunning. It says much, then, that you imagine the man himself is probably more excited about the rest of them. The “other voices.”

Among them, there is some wonderful stuff. “Grandpa’s Daisies” is poignant, and James is excellent.

Dale Watson has a phenomenal country voice, and “Joanne,” which lays the political class to waste, is arguably the best of the rest, so to speak.

Gary L. Floyd seems to be, by and large, the singer of choice, and even if, like me, you have zero romance in your soul, the duet of “Both Ends Of The Rainbow” is still lovely.

He does one of the two versions of “Rockin’ On The Country Dance Floor” here (James does the other), and it is honky tonk perfection (as it was on the “Delta Man” Spehar did with Allison).

Matters of the heart abound here. A clever take on it, though, is “The Last Person,” and “What He Said” is exactly what a lovelorn bloke in a country ballad should sound like.

As if to prove Spehar wanted to stay out of the spotlight here, the 20 songs are rounded off not with one of his newer ones but with Floyd and McKenzie singing a kind of lullaby in the shape of “Angel.”

Although a celebration of some wonderful songwriting, “Other Voices” isn’t a conventional best of. Indeed, there’s nothing about it that is conventional.

The collection is dedicated to Spehar’s usual co-producer Paul Lacques (once of I See Hawks In L.A.), who tragically died this year. He’d approve of not playing by the rules.

More than anything, though, “Other Voices” proves two things: 1) that if a song is truly great, it adapts in any format, but more importantly, 2) Gerry Spehar is one of the best songwriters around.

Rating: 9/10

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