New West Records
Somewhat bewildering to realize that Howe Gelb and Giant Sand have been around for 30 years and what’s more, they haven’t succumbed to suckage. With over 25 albums to date, Heartbreak Pass continues that unclassifiable “something” that is Giant Sand. From dusty desert odes (“Texting Feist”) to smart indie rock with “Hurtin’ Habit” or the sparse, haunting “Heaventually”, Gelb has created yet another artful celebration that showcases his hybrid style.
Remarkably, considering the only constant on the record is Gelb, the albums 15 cuts (Gelb apologizes in the liner notes with “ABOUT THIS ALBUM AND WHY IT’S TOO LONG”) share a common sound- very personal, a songwriter’s record, albeit a songwriter who has examined the lesser aspects of life. Recorded in Croatia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Amsterdam, Portland, Nashville and Arizona with a cast including Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Grant Lee Philips, Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Jack White’s pedal steel player Maggie Bjorklund, The Common Linnets, Lovely Quinces and John Parish of PJ Harvey fame, it all comes together smashingly.
Giant Sand has always kept to their own path, and Heartbreak Pass is more of the same, with the raw electronics of “Transponder”, the ’50s-styled pop of “Every Now and Then” and the west of Nashville, but recorded in Berlin countryish bounce of “Home Sweat Home”, this can only be a Giant Sand album. The record ends with Gelb fingerpicking a soft guitar on “Forever and Always” with his daughter Talula, a charming conclusion to another great Giant Sand experience, one that makes you eager for their next chapter.