Barely has the extensive reissue series of their back catalogue finished when Giant Sand return with a brand new album. This time, Howe Gelb has added an extra Giant to the moniker, to reflect the band’s expanded line-up – six members from Gelb’s hometown of Tucson and a string section from Denmark have joined a cast of characters that already include six Danish members, as well as a couple of Mexican-American musicians and a violinist born in Tucson but who resides in Aarhus, Denmark.
If that sounds convoluted, the results aren’t – Tucson’s 19 songs follow the same dusty, desert road traversed by Gelb and his cohorts over the past 27 years. Hailed by its creator as a country-rock opera, the record follows the road trip taken by its central character to escape his hometown. And while such a large ensemble adds layers to this peripatetic tale – horns, slide guitar, accordion – it never feels overdone. In fact, an impressive sense of loneliness and solitude pervades tracks like whiskey-hoarse The Sun Belongs To You and the Andrew Bird-esque Love Comes Over You. It does, like the protagonist it soundtracks, amble for slightly too long, but is nevertheless a welcome addition to Gelb’s canon.