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Spoon and Rafter

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Editors’ Notes

Over the years, Mojave 3 has settled into its role as the U.K.'s answer to alt-country, remaining outside the circle of clichés that often doom slavish devotees to country music's conventions. Instead, Neil Halstead relies on his own sense of melody—suggesting both English folk music and sadcore—to guide the swelling patterns of pedal steel, acoustic, and electric guitars. The ambitious opening cut, "Bluebird of Happiness," is highlighted by pianos, Rachel Goswell's supporting vocals, pedal steel, and unexpected song structures. There's a genuine melancholy to Halstead, even when he's bouncing along jovially on the upbeat "Starlight No. 1." "Writing to St. Peter" throws ambient sounds into its slow discovery. The tune gently unfolds as drums roll like thunder in the distance and chiming keyboards create a sense of unease. "Battle of the Broken Hearts" brings a mild reggae groove to the fore. But it's tracks like the ghostly "Hard To Miss You," the lonely, Neil Young–like piano of "She's All up Above," and the lilting harmonies of "Too Many Mornings" that shine brightest from this spectacular, unclassifiable group.

Customer Reviews

drew, this is so good

this album is so freaking good. anyone who doens't own and love this album is . . . dead.

One of my favorite albums of all time

A friend gave me Spoon & Rafter over a year ago. I can’t get over this album. I’ve listened to it and listened to it. It is now in the rare company with Tom Waits’ “Closing Time” and Leonard Cohen’s “Ten New Songs” as albums that never wear out (for me). Starlite #1 is my favorite, and a close second is Between the Bars. But I won’t recommend just getting those 2 songs. The whole album will make you a die-hard Mojave 3 fan.

A happy musical grin

"Bluebird of Happiness" is one of the most blissful, beautiful songs I've ever heard.


Formed: England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Between the recording and release of Slowdive's ambient Pygmalion, Neil Halstead began writing more song-based tunes to occupy down time. Weeks after being dropped by Creation, Halstead and the remaining members of Slowdive (Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon) recorded six demos within three days, much of it live without overdubs. Their manager brought the tape to 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell, who immediately gave the trio money to record more material. Feeling that the direction was too removed to...
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