Spain : I Believe

Reclusive LA band's stripped-down country

Strip most music of its fashionable, genre-specific accoutrements and there’s precious little left. Except country, perhaps. It’s with this in mind that Los Angelenos Spain go about their lovelorn business. There are no frills, no zeitgeist nods here, just the simplicity of the strum, the slide and the hushed confessions of Josh Haden – son of jazz bassist Charlie and disciple of the songwriter’s old skool.

Three albums in, ‘I Believe’ is a substantial offering awash with humble entreaties and doe-eyed, lounge affectations. Sure, the moniker may flirt outrageously with Monsieur Schmaltz, but there really are some sweet, sweet sounds lurking beneath the initially perceived pretence. The slow-mo beauty of ‘Mary’ showcases Haden’s almost electronic, pitch-perfect coo (and with all genre gimmicks gone, the voice has to be exact), while the self-explanatory, nu-prairie hum of ‘You Were Meant For Me’ betrays a romantic absolutism that Nick Cave would be proud of.

Like the curse on fellow Scott Walker obsessives such as Cousteau, too many record-buying folk will stick with their spoon-fed Coldplays to venture into the deeper realms of soft-focus acoustics. One suspects that the delicately-built Spain would only lose their precious muse in such star-studded company anyway.

Darren Johns