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Giant Sand - Blurry Blue Mountain

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 15 / 10 / 2010

Giant Sand - Blurry Blue Mountain
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Initriguingly laidback and sparse latest album from Giant Sand, the main focus of Howe Gelb who often credited as being the founder of alt. country is now in the twenty fifth year of his recording career

Such is the stark, spare and generally arid mood on Giant Sand’s 'Blurry Blue Mountain', you half expect a ball of tumbleweed to come barrelling across the room. A few tracks in, you feel transported to a one-horse town in the parched Arizona desert. Howe Gelb, the man credited with giving Country an alternative twist, is in his twenty fifth year of recording and he sounds as if he is pacing himself for the long haul; his laidback, lethargic voice is not going to be giving up through strain any time soon. The album opens with the line “They’ve been killing off all my heroes since I was 17,” in 'Fields of Gree'n. Quite who the first hero was around 1973 is not clear. The song is conversational, a gentle muse on ageing, sung with restraint over a sparsely played guitar. The album meanders; the tracks merge into a dusty washed out whole where some songs get lost and others catch your attention for a moment. There are two duets, most notably the closing piano driven 'Love a Loser'; a melancholic ballad with overture of Poques-like faux Celtic folk. At times 'Blurry Blue Mountain' approaches like spoken word, not unlike Tom Waits’ signature style of narrative songs, delivered with a quiet conspiratorial whisper. Sometimes the backing is so subtle you can miss it. At other times such as 'Brand New Swamp Thing' there is a full multi-facetted blues band at hand. This is probably due to the ever-changing fluidity of the Giant Sand line up, the only real constant being Gelb himself. There appears to be an influence of Frank Black ('Thin Line Man') as well more classic inspirations; 'Time Flies' could be a Forties crooner staple. 'Blurry Blue Mountain' is like all of Gelb and Giant Sand’s output; not all of it stands up alone; rather it is an organic whole has to be accepted on its own terms and seen in the context of what comes after and before. This may not be the best introduction to Gelb, but remains an intriguing, deceptively rich experience.

Track Listing:-
1 Fields Of Green
2 Chunk Of Coal
3 The Last One
4 Monk's Mountain
5 Spellbound
6 Ride The Tail
7 Lucky Star Love
8 Thin Line Man
9 No Tellin'
10 Brand New Swamp Thing
11 Erosion
12 Time Flies
13 Better Man Than Me
14 Love A Loser

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