Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Spain- 'The Blue Moods of Spain'
This album manages to shoot itself in the foot, commercially speaking, before it even gets off the shelf- the title, the cover art, the press quote praising the 'smooth guitar work' on the promo copy I bought (the second time I bought this album, to replace a lost copy- something I have only done with about 3 other records in my life.), everything screams 'MOR country-jazz-blues' so hard it practically forces your hand away from the record rack.
These indicators are, in a way, actually a pretty accurate indicator of the musical content as well- the guitar work is indeed smooth (almost every song contains a lengthy guitar solo smoother than a crushed fruit drink endorsed by The Egyptian Lover). And yes, the lyrics consist basically of the words 'ooh', 'baby' 'I' 'you' 'me' 'love' and 'darling' in a slightly different order on each song, with the occasional reference to Jesus or the colour blue to mix things up a bit.
And yes, it's jazzy (in spirit if not in construction) -main man Josh Haden is the son of legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden- and unlikely to send anyone screaming for the doors, clutching their ears. And it contains absolutely nothing radical in terms of construction (except for the length of the guitar solos, and perhaps the uniformly languorous tempo).
This record might be starting to sound like a big pile of (rightly) discarded clichés to you, and in some ways you'd be right. But remember why clichés become clichés in the first place- because before they were destroyed by generations of ham-fisted clowns, they were direct, unmediated, meaningful artistic statements which genuinely spoke to people- and it's there that the magic of this LP lies.
Because every element of this album rings fresh and true, despite being constructed out of such well-worn elements. Spain are also a band who know how to make every note count- while the music isn't Low or Codeine-style minimalist, there is a sense of very deliberate placement, a weight and purpose behind every syllable that Haden whispers, that makes all the difference between the tasteless processed Cheddar this album looks like, and the rich, complex Stilton (or Dovedale, really, let's face it- Stilton is usually not all it's cracked up to be) it actually is.
Yeah, it's cheese alright. It's blue cheese....
Listen to "Untitled No.1" here