Giant Sand mark 30th year with outstanding ‘Heartbreak Pass’

Giant Sand‘Heartbreak Pass’
Giant Sand (New West)
4 stars out of 5

I was definitely late to the party when it comes to Giant Sand, the long-running indie outfit spearheaded by Howe Gelb. I first discovered the band with the release of 2008’s terrific “proVISIONS” and have been a fan ever since. Their 2012 masterpiece “Tucson: A Country Rock Opera” remains in rotation on my iPod and I’ve tried to track down as much of Giant Sand’s extensive back catalog as possible.

Giant Sand CDTo mark 30 years in the business — Giant Sand’s first album was 1985’s “Valley of Rain” — Gelb and his current cadre of supporting musicians serve up “Heartbreak Pass.” It’s a 15-track, 50-minute sonic journey that seems to touch on every aspect of the band’s long career. It was recorded on multiple continents yet retains a cohesiveness that’s a testament to Gelb & Co.

“It first sprouted in Brussels,” Gelb explains. “Some strings attached in Crete … a choir acquired in Canada … a wall of sound in Berlin … then a little noodling in Italy … and a dash in Nashville … a vocal quotient in Croatia … a couple linnets in it in Holland … the rest slowly simmered in Tucson … and the whole thing was mixed in one place … bristling in Bristol.”

There aren’t any misfires and Giant Sand’s longtime fans are sure to enjoy standouts like “Texting Feist,” “Song So Wrong,” “Every Now and Then,” “Home Sweat Home,” “Bitter Suite,” “House in Order” and “Gypsy Candle.” After more than three decades, Gelb and Giant Sand have still got it. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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