The Tarnished Gold
Jul 05, 2012 Web Exclusive
In the 11 years since the indie-country-folk band's last record, things have gotten hazier for Beachwood Sparks. Their sunniness is now deployed with a lighter touch and ample reverb, bringing to mind the humid dog days of August instead of the fireworks of July. Thankfully, the haze suits them.
Opener "Forget the Song" is as catchy as anything off the band's masterful Once We Were Trees from 2001, but the harmonies are subtler and the guitars are quieter than those from the band's heyday. There are moments recalling the old energy—the bouncy "Sparks Fly Again" and hoedown "The Orange Glass Special"—but this is primarily a record for sunsets and mint juleps.
And what a record it is. The hushed middle tracks make the album sag, but Beachwood Sparks have lost none of their performance or songwriting chops during the long hiatus. "Earl Jean," a gentle ballad featuring Jerry Garcia-like guitars and a lilting rhythm, exemplifies the album's confidence, as does the loping title track, which echoes the wistful melodies and steel guitars of Gram Parsons.
The Tarnished Gold isn't the kind of album that attracts plaudits and "Best New Music" tags, and maybe that's for the best. The record is meant to fade into the background, and hopefully that means it can be a secret for the rest of us. (www.thecalmingseas.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10