Label: Restless Records
A Spain record really should come complete with a roaring fire, a bottle of great scotch and a sack full of moments captured from the most intense love affair of your life. As some clever critic once said about records like this “it’s almost like there is drama without melodrama.” It’s hard to name too many bands that set as quietly confident a tone as Spain, except maybe Red House Painters, Low and Nick Drake, but this is primarily because it is so difficult to do. To make a heart pound and bask in a series of crisply meandering love songs while still reeking of “cool,” and I’m talking more about Sinatra on Prozac than James Taylor, you’ve got to be doing something right.
In a year without too many truly stand-out releases, Spain’s second album (which took four years to complete), has emerged thus far as this year’s real diamond in the rough. This time around Spain, the brainchild of jazz great Charlie Haden’s son Josh, has elevated itself from the patient, moody band that they were four years ago to one of the most mature, self-assured and sophisticated sounding bands playing today.
On the band’s aptly titled 1995 debut “The Blue Moods of Spain,” they perfected a kind of patient momentum, where at almost every moment they created a kind of beautiful tension.
But “She Haunts Your Dreams” is a smoother, bolder album. The lyrics and rock elements are stronger, still hinting at classic jazz, but edging further out towards rock. Led by the seductively breathy vocals of Josh Haden, songs like “Easy Lover” and “Hoped and Prayed” drift along effortlessly like majestically cynical reflections on modern love.
Although most of the lyrics seem a bit trite and redundant when merely led aloud, Haden and company drop a beautifully slow motion groove behind the words which lends itself to mesmerizing repetition. Too many this record will come off as too slow and moody, too romantic and dramatic, but for the lover of darkly uplifting rock, there is little doubt that “She Haunts Your Dreams” will rank among this year’s best.