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”I was drunk, when I met you
I was drunk,
when you walked out the door...”
For British Indie Folk/Dream-Pop band Mojave 3's second album Out Of Tune, the vastly underrated Neil Halstead wrote a lovely batch of songs that testified to his great love of Americana music. Mojave 3’s chief songwriter Neil Halstead has a way with words and often very few words at that -- sparse, yet evocative and intriguing -- and each album delivers bittersweet and memorable lyrics about the elusive nature of love such as Yer Feet’s ”I was drunk when I met You / I was drunk when you walked out the door”, and Give What You Take’s “I’ve been Lookin’ for a love / Pretty soon I guess I’ll fuck things up / But right now I’m gonna laugh”. The straightforward and brutally honest words contrast starkly with the soft music and are all the more efficient for it.
Halstead’s Americana influences were already in evidence on Mojave 3's first album Ask Me Tomorrow, with its wide use of slide guitar, albeit to a much lesser degree; the debut still sounded primarily like an unplugged, low-fi version of Halstead’s old Shoegaze band Slowdive, without tons of echo, distortion and feedback. With Out Of Tune the transformation was complete, and Mojave 3's Americanized sound had become so thoroughly authentic it is unequalled among non-American bands (except for Irish group The Thrills’ first album So Much For The City). As Halstead wrote the songs for Out Of Tune, he developed into one of his generation's most solid and convincing songwriters. These mesmerizing compositions are all respectful tributes to Americana –- a genre that incorporates Folk, Rock, Country, and Blues –- but even though his idols and influences are more or less present as ghosts from a bygone era, he also succeeded in developing an unmistakable sound of his own: a quiet, exceptionally subtle style.
The beautifully understated opening track Who Do You Love, adorned with a muted trumpet, is '70s Soft-Rock at its best in the vein of Bread and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of this mellow, frequently melancholic album. Give What You Take is simply sublime -- like a musical collaboration between America and Simon & Garfunkel. Keep It All Hid is a melodic, mid-tempo track with Hammond Organ that channels Bob Dylan circa Blonde On Blonde, and the gorgeous, pedal steel-drenched Baby’s Coming Home brings to mind Neil Young at his most fragile. The sun-soaked album cover and the band’s name (they named themselves after the Mojave Desert in the American Southwest) are indications of the warm sound and feel of Mojave 3’s timeless music.