Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold
This is a crowded space in which to operate. Fleet Foxes. Vetiver. Husky. Hiss Golden Messenger. Jonathan Wilson. The list goes on. Beachwood Sparks, though, have form. Their 2000 s-t album was well received. But after one more album and an EP, that was it. At first, their brand of country-pop, psychedelic-country, insert equivalent two-word descriptors of your choice, was fresh sounding. Jangly like the Byrds. But just that little bit spaced out. It made waves, because what you got wasn’t quite what you expected. After a decade away, Beachwood Sparks are back. But they’re not quite the same as before. Gone is any overt experimentation. Instead, they’ve placed themselves firmly and squarely in that crowded space. True, the guitars are more country-sounding than most of the laid-back Canyon groups. There’s even a bit of a hoe-down towards the end. But nothing too overstated. Which is perhaps the keyword for the album as a whole. This is an easy listening album and, for once, that’s meant as a compliment. There’s not that sense, as there is with groups such as Chief, Maplewood, The Autumn Defense, of trying hard to ape a particular sound. For Beachwood Sparks the sound comes naturally. ‘Water From the Well’ flows beautifully. ‘Talk About Lonesome’ will not make you feel lonesome at all. Plus, there’s a welcome sense that things aren’t being taken too seriously. Calling a song ‘Sparks Fly Again’ is hardly a coincidence and ending the album with a track called ‘Goodbye’ suggests that there may be another 10-year wait before they return. But just maybe they’re teasing. Let’s hope so.