Giant Giant Sand: “Forever And A Day”
Almost since he started the band Giant Sand, Howe Gelb has wanted to write a country-rock opera. He can date the idea back to 1978 or so, but the actual work has finally come into fruition. Today sees the release of Tucson–Gelb’s operatic ode to his hometown.
Giant Sand–like the name suggests–has shifted over time. The group originated in 1985, coming out of Gelb’s rock outfit Giant Sandworms. Over the years, members have come and gone, including fellow Tucsonites Joey Burns and John Convertino, who would later go on to form Calexico. The new album precipitated another change, reflected in the extra word to the band name. Giant Giant Sand, true to form, is bursting at the seams with musicians attempting to capture the grandeur of the Arizona desert.
Oddly enough, the core of the band is now made up of Gelb and a trio of Danish musicians. Many of the other members met Gelb at a Berlin festival last year, where they all performed together on the spot. This collaborative nature is readily apparent in the new album. Pedal steel and a string section turn Gelb’s dusty songs into cinematic vignettes.
“Forever And A Day” is a perfect example of the record’s operatic flair. It starts out as a countrified ramble and shifts into full-on mariachi mode before morphing back again. Even though it’s taken from a longer song cycle, “Forever And A Day” is a drama in itself.