Spain are great but Josh Haden, like Mark Kozalek, can become a little fixated and one-dimensional. These tracks recorded for a radio session are necessarily less controlled, more relaxed and offer a glimpse of Spain stripped of the suit of perfection. It helps that Josh has assistance from his sisters (Petra, Rachel, Tanya) who bring backing vocals on a couple of tracks and violin and cello on 'Walked on Water'. I found the last Spain record a little sterile, the jolt of live performance reminds me how good a band Spain really are.

The first involvement of the Haden sisters on 'Only One' ushers the song into a new space, their extended oooh's leven the song, Josh's vocals are never ecstatic, he doesn't have the voice for that, he is built for melancholy and passion, though when he does decide to cut a little loose towards the end of the song it shows his range is wider than he lets on. 'Spiritual' benefits even more from the sisters input, the song is, as the title suggests, a spiritual, the simmer of the organ and the percolating vocals give a real soulful feel and when one of the sisters breaks rank and takes the lead vocal the songs flies, when the others harmonize, it soars.


Opposed to the recorded version of 'Nobody Has to Know' there's a certain degree of looseness, the piano sounds as if it is on holiday and 'Untitled #1' has guitars that ooze relaxation, it is fluid and fun. 'She Haunts My Dreams' is looser too, it sounds as if Haden is having some fun with it, it's as close to a three minute pop song as he is ever likely to deliver, the guitar is a riot of restraint, noodling away in one channel whilst in the other I'm sure I can detect a smile in Haden's voice.

David Cowling
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