The Listener

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“For Howe Gelb, home is where the mind floats. Though the latest solo release by the Giant Sand-man bills the artist as Howe Home (perhaps primarily for typographical reasons; it looks cool on the cover), the bulk of the music was recorded in Denmark, where he was on sojourn from his native Tucson. He primarily plays a stately brand of ballroom piano here, instead of the plangent desert guitar that marks much of his band work, while the music draws from an unlikely juxtaposition of influences that include Lou Reed, Astor Piazzolla, Bill Withers and Bjork.

Yet in contrast to the sort of offhand whimsy that has resulted in increasingly marginal music from Gelb, the result is his most compellingly cohesive song cycle in years, as well as his best independent of Giant Sand. Suffused with a sense of mortality, a spirit of serendipity and a celebration of each bittersweet breath, it sounds like mood music for moods you might never have known you had if you didn’t listen to Howe Gelb.

From the reluctant “Sweet Jane” homage of “Felonious” and “Lying There”, to the deconstruction of “Lean On Me” in “B 4 U (Do Do Do)”, to the contemplation of home from an ocean’s remove in “Cowboy Boots” and “Blood Orange”, to the collaboration with the Handsome Family’s Brett & Rennie Sparks on “Moons Of Impulse”, to the benedictory prayer of “Now I Lay Me Down”, Gelb sustains a spirit (or is it an illusion?) of spontaneous composition as conversation. The interplay is transformational for artist and listener alike, as if the album were a pilgrimage in which you feel more closely connected to home the farther you travel from it.”