Spain “The Soul of Spain”

  • Spain are a band with a recognizable sound, Josh Haden carved out the slowcore debonair smoky blues niche early on and has pretty much stuck to it since. In the ten years following the last Spain record still nothing much has changed, there’s still repetition, still the sing-speak vocal and the rich buttery loungey backing  The opener ‘Only One’ says ‘I’ve been away, time hasn’t changed me’, it bears all of the hallmarks of authentic Spain. It is not daylight music, it is for the small hours; take it after, rather than before liquor.

  • Ah, but there is a something that has changed.  On a couple of tracks, there is a difference, and that difference is tempo. ‘Because Your Love’ rocks, yes rocks, the guitars drive the songs as much as Haden’s faltering vocals usually do.  Think of it as Torremelinos, it’s noisier, it bustles but it’s still Spain. ‘Miracle Man’ again pummels the rhythm guitar swapping the normal languid plangency for urgency and throwing in a genuine chorus and guitar break or two.

    These excursions make the record seem more dynamic and varied, but back to what they excel at; ‘I Love You’ starts with a chocolaty bass line and then smoky vocals and guitar strums, guitar solo unfurls with each note reaching for the sun, and as a bonus there are two solos, each curling around the same theme and each the kind of beautiful noise that my head will never be full of. It’s clear that Spain are still Spain, so thoroughly wedded to their sound are they that when guitarist Daniel Brummel writes and sings ‘All I Can Give’ it fits very neatly into their overall aesthetic. Spain are like a Japanese garden with a defined formal structure with all elements in careful harmony with lyrics that are like haiku’s. ‘Falling’ is just short verses, in Spain songs the blossom falls on cue. In some ways these songs are all spirituals, ‘Hang Your Head Down Low’, ‘Walked on Water’ and ‘Sevenfold’ are the sort of thing that chime with moods at three in the morning (a collection of their early work is cannily titled ‘The Blue Moods of Spain’) and it is that metallic blue that defines them. Spain are back, like they’ve never been away.

David Cowling