'Letter from Home' was one of the first PMG albums I heard, and remains my favourite even after hearing the likes of 'The Way Up' and 'Speaking of Now'. There is quite simply not a single track on the entire album that is below a certain standard. The sheer range of material the group pumps out is staggering, creating countless changes in tempo, mood and genre, while still maintaining the Latin feel throughout. Vocalist Pedro Aznar's presence sets the tone for much of the album, expanding on the vocalise techniques Metheny had already experimented with through Nana Vasconcelos on 'Offramp' and 'As Falls Wichita'. His voice usually follows the main tune in each piece, adding a greater depth of sound than in previous albums and letting Pat and Lyle improvise more in addition.
The first four tracks (including 'Have you Heard', which has a become a favourite track to be played live) are in themselves incredibly diverse, keeping to the same structure of a main theme with solos running around and the occasional bridge passage (always a treat). After that, the Latin feel peaks with the short-but-sweet '45/8' and the first half is rounded off with '5/5/7', an engrossing atmospheric track that you can easily lose yourself in.
The second half has perhaps even more diversity, beginning with the joyful 'Beat 70', a firecracker of a tune that will leave you with a smile on your face. Leading on from that is the simply beautiful 'Dream of the Return', a love song with Spanish lyrics by Aznar. If I had to pick out any track from this album as the absolute masterpiece, this would be it. The pure, brilliant emotional theme and increasingly extroverted solos build up to a climax that almost brings tears to the eyes! Towards the very end, Aznar's voice soars and leaves you warm and content, ready for the unadulterated madness of 'Are We There Yet' which Lyle wrote without Pat's input, and which sounds like something Schoenberg would have written, given a synthesiser and synth guitar! The main theme is as close as the group gets to rocking out completely in this album, leading on to an extended guitar solo with backing that includes sound effects like car horns honking etc. The last couple of minutes are a subtle segue into 'Vidala', Pedro Aznar's compositional contribution to the record. This at least has lyrics in English, and although it's often hard to hear exactly what Aznar is saying, the overall feel of the track leans towards the oriental at times and creates some fabulous intense moments.
'Slip Away', the penultimate offering is perhaps the weakest track on the album as it is the least complex and varied, however it is infused with great energy and a sense of forward motion, and features Pat's typically eargasmic solos. The album is rounded off with the title track, a masterfully underplayed gem that releases all the emotion built up throughout the album and provides a lasting sense of well being.
All together, this album is without a doubt one of PMG's finest hours, required listening for any fans.