The Upshot: A gorgeous record, enticing and attractive, giving you its heart to hold and trusting you to treasure the experience.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
By the very nature of its style, Spain has hid its light under a bushel. As one of the original wave of artists in the so-called “slo-core” mini-movement, the L.A. combo prefers subtlety to flash, quiet substance to loud style. While Carolina, the band’s sixth album, is hardly the Big Rock Move fellow travelers like Low eventually proffered, it is possibly the most straightforward and accessible LP of bandleader Josh Haden’s career.
Drawing inspiration from country music in much the same way his jazz-composing father Charlie did, Haden uses Americana storytelling as a jumping-off point for emotional journeys. In part he accomplishes this by stripping down the music’s feel even further than on previous Spain records. Not in instrumentation, mind you – indeed, the lap steel, banjo and violin that fill out the sound make Carolina the lushest Spain LP yet. Tempos are up, too – nothing’s at Motörhead level, but you could take these tunes on a spin ‘round the dancefloor. What Haden lets fall away is the detached atmosphere that marked previous Spain albums – he lets nothing get in the way of the emotional punch packed by “The Depression,” “Starry Night” and “In My Hour.” The exact circumstances of first-person narratives like “Tennessee,” “Station 2” and “The Battle of Saratoga” is less important than the hearts beating beneath their surfaces, while the form the music takes means less than the manner in which it leads you to its destination.
All of which is to say that Carolina is a gorgeous record, enticing and attractive, giving you its heart to hold and trusting you to treasure the experience.
DOWNLOAD: “Tennessee,” “In My Hour,” “Station 2”