With the 2001 release of I Believe, Josh Haden's Spain increased from a trio to a four piece, adding guitarist/keyboardist Shon Sullivan and new drummer Will Hughes (replacing the sorely missed Joey Waronker). The sound has expanded too, sounding fuller and more open, compared to the band's previous intimate, almost cradling sound. Humming organ and additional guitar lines resonate in the background of nearly every song, creating an almost Phil Spector-like "wall of sound"…well maybe not to that extreme, but when compared to Spain's previous albums, I Believe sounds almost bombastic. Gone are the warm pockets of silence in the songs, the space between the notes is now occupied by the hums and cymbal rides of the able performers. Curmudgeonly purist gripes aside, I Believe is a fine album, filled with bassist Haden's trademark understated croon and rich sonic textures. The loping "You Were Meant for Me" sounds for all the world like the band is channeling the ghost of Morphine's Mark Sandman, while the sublime "Mary" is among the best songs the band has recorded and would be far less successful without the haunting church organ and extra instrumentation. While some listeners will welcome this growth and expansion of sound, longtime fans will doubtless lament the lack of pure intimacy and calm melancholy that enveloped Spain's first and second albums.
AllMusic Review by Zac Johnson