Release Date: Jun 3, 2016
Record label: Cobraside Distribution, Inc.
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Dream Pop, Slowcore
There was a patina of hipster cool in most of Josh Haden's early recordings as Spain. That's been washed away on 2016's Carolina; instead of suggesting a late-night bachelor pad jazz session, Carolina evokes the sound and feeling of a quiet summer evening in the Deep South, where all you can hear are the crickets and your failed dreams echoing through your imagination. The weary but implacable rhythms that drive these ten songs are at once gloomy and graceful, full of quiet beauty but evoking a mood that's a shade or two past the blues.
Josh Haden returns with Carolina, the sixth album from Spain. Haden’s ability to seamlessly marry the poetic and the historical marks him as a true artist, a man of considerable heart and insight. He can be impressionistic, floating across time with an uncommon ease. He fuses the lived and the imagined across these 10 songs, taking us to Southern California in the 1970s, to present day New York state, to the dusty, open-sky terrain of the great plains across generations, and to the center of a heart that breaks and swells and hurts and celebrates just like our own.
As befits a band who stand among the originators of slowcore, Carolina takes it’s time. The album is an emotional depiction of times gone by, with frontman Josh Haden’s vignettes of infidelity and love set to a backdrop of economic depression, drought and war. Allow it to seep into your bones and you’ll soon fall for this countrified version of the band, where Haden’s mellifluous, simple voice is framed by Kenny Lyon’s multi-instumental prowess, in particular on pedal and lap steel and Petra Haden on violin.
By the very nature of its style, Spain has hid its light under a bushel. As one of the original wave of artists in the so-called “slo-core” mini-movement, the L.A. combo prefers subtlety to flash, quiet substance to loud style. While Carolina, the band’s sixth album, is hardly the Big Rock Move fellow travelers like Low eventually proffered, it is possibly the most straightforward and accessible LP of bandleader Josh Haden’s career.