Spirit of the West

Open Heart Symphony

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The surprising follow-up to the dark, hard-sounding Two Headed finds Spirit of the West working with a full symphony, and somewhat returning to their Celtic roots. In a number of ways, this combination works very well. Recorded live (with the exception of "Christmas Eve" and "Let the Ass Bray"), in Vancouver, British Columbia, Spirit of the West perform new material and incorporate the symphony as part of the band, rather than attempting to add an orchestra to older, popular songs (although such was performed and captured on the video release). The songs themselves are wonderful, with the incredible "Williamsons Garage" kicking off the set, a song with one of the most memorable melodies that Spirit of the West have ever recorded. In fact, for the most part, the songs have very instantly appealing tunes, and the symphony assists in making the tunes that more melodic. However pleasant the melodies may be, the moody and diverse lyrics are still present, covering topics such as death ("Resurrection" and the beautiful "Daisy's Dead"), eating disorders ("Bare Branches"), and even a "tribute" to Radiohead ("Let the Ass Bray"). Overall a very appealing, thought-provoking album, and perhaps the closest Spirit of the West has come to perfecting their sound on disc. A great combination of Celtic roots-rock with pop music, with a dash of alternative sounds, all with an orchestra.

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