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 grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.