Back in 2009, after an “existential breakdown of sorts,” Jason D. Heminger left his hometown of Tacoma, Washington and moved to Colorado to work on a ranch. Heminger had dabbled with music for years, but there, in a horse barn near the Rockies, dozens of songs unexpectedly began flowing out of him.
Sporty Lee was born.
After years of honing those initial songs and writing more, Heminger returned to Tacoma to record Allotropes. The resulting album is both intimate and expansive—full of quiet, reflective moments alongside raw, gut-punching rock.
The songs on Allotropes cover a range of Americana sounds. “Amen to That” surrounds listeners with lush layers of synths and drums, but “Brimfire Tears” finds Heminger alone with his guitar, hammering the strings with unbridled emotion. The guitar riffs on “Cold Weather Blues” and “Lawyer” are reminiscent of ’70s blues-rock, while the stomping kick drum on “Consider It” is the stuff of campfire folk. It’s all irresistible, no matter the instrumentation.
Lyrically, Heminger delves into confessional honesty without ever falling into self-indulgence. He admits to his struggles with love, cynicism, doubt and pride, but always moves outward, calling listeners to examine these things in themselves, as well. “Remember those ghosts that danced in your head?” he sings on “Consider It.” “They promised to leave if they got what they need but they moved in instead.”
Throughout the album, Heminger excellently walks the line of reflecting on existential questions without ever sounding preachy or pretentious—and without ever losing sight of hope. For Sporty Lee, hope is born out of self-awareness and honesty, not simple platitudes.
“The truth was found engraved on your soul,” he sings on “Poets of the Past.” “You had to feel it like braille then go blind. And this salvation is a dance that’s inspired by a song. Your heart’s a metronome trying to keep in time.”
The layers of music and meaning on Allotropes are best enjoyed on vinyl, with a lyric sheet in hand. The album’s self-reflection and hopeful reminders make it the perfect soundtrack for the start of a new year, and an album you’ll return to time and again.