The Tarnished Gold

Sub Pop

Nearly a decade after their breakup, Beachwood Sparks return with their third full-length studio album.

The dreamy pedal steel guitar is intact, albeit not played by Farmer Dave Scher but by Dan Horne (Mezzanine Owls, The Street & Babe Shadow), who filled in for the unavailable Scher when the group reformed for Sub Pop’s 20th-anniversary concert in 2008 (Scher instead plays keyboards and guitar). Also supporting the “classic” quartet in the studio are Ben Knight (The Tyde) on guitar and returning 2001 tour guitarist Neal Casal (a solid solo artist in his own right).

It’s as if time stood still while the band was on hiatus. “Gold” picks up exactly where “Once We Were Trees” left off — except there are way more guitars (electric and acoustic, including the occasional banjo, mandolin or lap steel), and everyone brings experience from their interim side projects: Scher and original drummer Jimi Hey’s All Night Radio; bassist Brent Rademaker’s Frausdots; and guitarist Chris Gunst’s Mystic Chords of Memory.

With three singers, BWS has never been wanting for Byrdsian harmonies; in fact, they’re even more pronounced this go-around, especially on numbers such as the proclamatory “Forget the Song,” the collectively autobiographical “Sparks Fly Again” and the cross-faded one-two punch (if such a thing is possible for a laid-back, Cosmic American outfit) of “The Orange Grass Special” and “Goodbye.”

Other notables include the “this one’s for you, Gram Parsons” title track; “Water From the Well,” which really does go down like a long, cold drink of subterranean H20 on a hot summer day; and the jingly-jangly “Earl Jean.”

1. Forget The Song
2. Sparks Fly Again
3. Mollusk
4.Tarnished Gold
5. Water From The Well
6. Talk About Lonesome
7. Leave That Light On
8. Nature’s Light
9. No Queremos Oro
10. Earl Jean
11. Alone Together
12. The Orange Grass Special
13. Goodbye

Total time: 43:48

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