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Giant Giant Sand

Tucson (Fire)

Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Nov. 2, 2012

Fun Fun Fun Fest Sunday Reviews

Giant Giant Sand

Tucson (Fire)

Of all the pretentiously unpretentious artistes in indie rock, Giant Sand's Howe Gelb seems like the least likely to do a concept album. Yet here's Tucson, a self-styled "country rock opera" credited to Giant Giant Sand to accommodate the addition of guest singers, a string section, and pedal steel ace Maggie Björklund. Unsurprisingly, given its creator's disinterest in structural confinement, Tucson is less a linear narrative and more a collection of songs with a thematic thread and consistent atmosphere. The low-key, mostly acoustic arrangements, flavored by mariachi strings, jazz, and a mix of Mexican-American and C&W rhythms, push the characters to find meaning in the dusty roads, big skies, and wide open spaces of Arizona, whether that knowledge comes from romance ("Love Comes Over You"), daily life ("Recovery Mission"), or more existential wanderings ("Plane of Existence"). (Sun., Orange stage, 3:35pm)

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