Cody Sparks Band: Sinners and the Saved
AUSTIN, TX- The Cody Sparks band hails from Austin, but Cody and Seth Sparks grew up in the panhandle of Texas. Cody then went to college in Stillwater Oklahoma, which is why his songs pay homage both to Oklahoma and Texas in sound and lyrics. The band is made up of Cody, his brother Seth and Michael Matthews. They give credit to Reckless Kelly, Turnpike Troubadours, Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green as their musical influences.
Sinners and the Saved is the debut album for the Cody Sparks Band. It contains 11 songs and was released on March 22 of this year. It was recorded at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos, Texas. It was produced by Timothy Allen, engineered by Jon Terpstra and mastered by Jarett Bostick. The art direction and design was by Sarah and Shauna Dodds at Backstage Design Studio in Austin, Texas. Cody is credited with lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, stomps, claps, bench squeaks and hollers on the album. Seth is credited with drums, auxiliary percussion, stomps, claps and hollers, and Matthews did harmony vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar footsteps and hollers. Additional musicians who were featured on the album include Timothy Allen (harmony vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, banjo, piano, organ, Rhodes, auxiliary percussion, stomps, claps, and hollers), Kalynn Samples (Rhodes), Bob Driver III (Harmony vocals), Bennett Brown (Violin, viola), Chase Satterwhite (upright bass), Cody Angel (Pedal steel), Marlon Sparks (harmony vocals, stomps, claps and hlleers), Joe Terpstra (auxiliary percussion) and Kathryn Legendre (lead vocals, harmony vocals).
The album opens with “Oklahoma Fool”, a song with a lively beat filled with bits of imagery of Oklahoma. “You might find me lost and broken but I’ll never be your Oklahoma Fool,” the lyrics weave somewhat of a story as it talks of challenges and hope among the scenery. It’s laced with some rocking guitar which blends well with the more country feel of the violin.
“No Time” follows and opens quickly with an almost manic pace. It borders more on an Americana feel in both lyrics and sound, although the frantic fiddling in it seems more bluegrassy than anything else. It’s a song about leaving, “You can try to make me wait for you, but I ain’t got no time to waste on you”, pretty sure everyone has been in that place a time or two and can relate.
“Trouble” is next. It starts out with an almost blues feel to it musically but as soon as the vocals start it melts into more of a country ballad about hard times and sorrows, a drinking tune. It also has a rocking guitar solo in it, which gives it an entirely different layer, along with the beautiful keys which ends it on a lovely melancholy note.
“Covered” picks us back up in tempo and speed. The vocals are smooth and rich, Sparks has a bit of a country twang in his accent that adds to its charm. The violin is hauntingly beautiful throughout the heartbroken song. It’s a raw look at some of the complications of relationships, wrapped up in a toe tapping beat and great instrumentals.
“Sinners and the Saved” is the title track and opens with the sound of a train off in the distance. It builds momentum slowly with added sounds and instruments one at a time. Although it starts as a slow song with a touch of a melancholy quality, it builds up to more of a lively tune for just a bit before ending on a mournful kind of note. The lyrics are full of insightful looks at people and life in general with a nostalgic feel as well.
“Love Song” is a little soft and slow, a duet with Kathryn Legendre . It paints a beautiful picture of longing and loving. It’s a good example of a Texas country love song. It’s definitely a good song to slow dance with a lover on the dance floor to.
“Baby’s Gone” is a catchy tune with a good steady and lively beat. It definitely has a country feel to it, layered with some great instrumentals. It’s somewhat of an amusing song about a gal that ran away.
“Pot of Gold” is gritty and a little dark. The vocals take on a deeper more gravelly feel than the rest of the songs. The lyrics are laced with a bit of anger and cynicism that plays well with the instrumentals. It tells a story of someone out there searching for something they can never really find.
“Stilly” follows and is a fast paced and fun song with props to Stillwater Oklahoma as its setting. It’s kind of a mix of a bluegrass song with a touch of rockabilly thrown in. It makes you want to tap your toes and move along with the beat which has an infectious quality.
“Set in the West” comes up next which is slow and mournful. It’s a song about heartbreak and lost love. It’s a pretty stripped down and simple song instrumentally, which leaves more focus on the vocals and lyrics. It ends with the sounds of someone getting up and walking away, which portrays a feeling and emotion of leaving and being done.
“Ghosts of Desperado” wraps it all up, a fully instrumental song which takes you on a bit of a ride with varying speeds throughout. It seems to tell a story wordlessly with fantastic guitar licks and outstanding drumming, it leans almost towards a more rocking sound. The last 30 seconds of various noises of the musicians getting up and walking away is a nice touch at ending the album, but perhaps having it on both this and the previous song takes away from that a bit and would have a bigger impact if it were only on one or the other.
Overall it is a solid first album from the band and offers a good mix of songs and sounds. The lyrics are thoughtful and at times poetic, the vocals are rich and smooth, and the instrumentals are skilled and varied. This band will no doubt continue to grow and evolve and have even more to offer the music scene as time passes. Check them and this album out.
You can find more information about the band at www.codysparksband.com.