After a year of recording, mixing and mastering, Milwaukee's Heidi Spencer has released her second independent album, "The Luck We Make." Her first disc, "Matches and Valentines," a diverse collection of acoustic-based songs, came out a couple of years ago.
"Luck" features 11 songs and is, like her first record, a shower of different styles and genres under an umbrella of raw emotion, solid guitar playing and rich vocals. Uplifting melancholy, if that makes sense, ripples throughout the entire collection, starting with the beautiful heart-wrencher "Waiting for Me Home," featuring the deliciously sad cello of fellow musician and friend, melaniejane.
Highlights of the album include the Mazzy Star-esque "I Slept In Cars," which has the kick-ass opening line, "I think I win, I've known the most misfits in the room, and lost them all over some gin." The alt-country "Texas in a Drawer" gets at least four lone stars and "April Moon" is one of those play-it-again-and-again-ers (or am I just a sucker for those strings?)
The lack of silence between cuts is a nice choice, making the album feel and sound more like a live performance or a cohesive art collection with a single gold thread looping all of the songs together.
Once again, Spencer works with a myriad of talent -- most of it local -- including Bill Cutris, Dave Gelting, Renee Patt, Hugh Masterson, Matt Hendricks, Ryan Weber, melaniejane, Dan Fischer, Janet Schiff, Jason Wietlispach, sister Llysa Spencer and Sigmund Snopek III.
Spencer appeared on a Snopek piece called "Trinity Seas Seize Sees" a few years ago, singing the chorus of a poem written by her father, the late Jim Spencer, a well-known Milwaukee musician who passed away more than two decades ago.
Although Spencer is a self-taught musician, she studies in UWM's film department. Two of her short films, "Passenger Blues" and "Naya Luna," are included on "Luck," and she plans to create her third film in January.
"I have a lot of pressure on myself to make this my best film to date. A year off, you know, can be motivating," says Spencer, 31, who has bartended at Linneman's for six years.
After living in South Carolina, Colorado, Yellowstone, Arizona, Portland, Austin, North Carolina, California and New Mexico, Spencer, who lived in Shorewood for most of her childhood, plans to stay in Milwaukee for now.
"I have decided to stay in Milwaukee until there is reason to move. My life has been one long road narrative, and I'm no Jack Kerouac," she says.
Heidi Spencer performs Saturday, Dec. 3 at Bremen St. Cafe, 901 E. Clarke St., with Clinton Clay.
"The Luck We Made" is available at Atomic Records, 1813 E. Locust St., or through CD Baby.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.