Album: Giant Giant Sand, Tucson: a Country Rock Opera (Fire)

 

Sometimes, bigger is not better: Giant Sand's Howe Gelb has often been most potent with minimal resources, which may explain why I'm slightly underwhelmed by this major project featuring an extended group line-up of around a dozen players.

It's partly to do with the thinness of the narrative – the emotional journey of "a semi-grizzled man with overt boyish naiveté" – and partly the slick competence of the backings, which seem to restrict the way Gelb evokes the protagonist's restless search for freedom. This isn't to suggest there aren't plenty of enjoyable moments, notably in the mariachi country lilt of "Forever and a Day", the ebullient cumbia of "Carinito", and the emotional tremors of "Love Comes Over You".

Download: Forever and a Day; Love Comes Over You; Carinito

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