Mojave 3

Excuses for Travellers

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Quickly becoming one of the most consistently excellent bands of the late '90s and early '00s, Mojave 3 have crafted their third-straight solid album. Progression obviously isn't priority number one on their list of things to do -- the prime directive remains a humble stab at the notion of "Why, shucks -- we just wanna make nice records." Neil Halstead again handles the bulk of songwriting, and his craft continues to be finely stitched like a blanket that provides endless comfort. Excuses for Travellers finds a midpoint between Ask Me Tomorrow and Out of Tune -- it's not as peppy as the latter, but it's not as hushed as the former. There are some subtle differences from the two other records, like the shadings of banjo that appear from time to time and the further presence of horns. Halstead's voice sounds a little gruff on occasion, but it's no detracting factor. Most notable is a Rachel Goswell-sung track, "Bringin' Me Home," which surprisingly adds a subtle touch of synth, presumably courtesy of producer/associate Mark Van Hoen (Locust). Hearing Goswell take lead vocals is like hearing from a long-lost friend; certainly her gorgeous voice -- which sounds relatively toughened on the song -- has been the band's secret weapon. Why she hasn't stepped out more is anyone's guess. No offense to Halstead's vocals, but will there ever be a Mojave 3 record dominated by her voice? One can only hope. Few can fault Mojave 3 for hanging their hat on the same rung for a while, as long as they keep cranking out pearls like they have every two years. There might be little variance, but each of their records to date are utterly classicist and fresh.

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