Before their eponymous debut album in 2000 the Beachwood Sparks had already recorded these country rock tracks now released for the very first time under the album title "Desert Skies". The material draws upon the sixties influences of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and The Byrds but with a nod to the eighties sound of the Paisley Underground movement.
The resulting tracks presented here are pure Beachwood Sparks however and they are a revelation. The album is a warm, melodic and bittersweet evocation of turn of the century alternative country rock and the nine original songs are literate and atmospheric.
Recorded when the band was a six piece outfit, the album features lap steel, bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion and drums. From this simple line up, and recorded in a small garage, a dense, richly textured and complex layered sound emerged that would have been a credit to a professional recording studio. The wonder is that it was never released.
The tracks are uniformly splendid but the six minute jangle rock of "Sweet Julie Ann" is a minor classic and the opening track, "Desert Skies", has a melodic, sub psychedelic grandeur, propelled by steel guitar, dense percussion and strangely reminiscent of John Cale in his "Paris 1919" period.
"Make It Together" is sublime dream pop and "Canyon Ride" is a majestic, guitar infused stroll through the gardens of country rock. It is a lovely album that deserved a better fate than to have languished in a vault, unloved and unwanted, for seventeen years.