I’ve already praised Calexico’s offering this year (the stunning Algiers), but they’ve now sweetened the pot by adding a second disc. Spiritoso is compiled of live recordings from Summer 2012, each augmented by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna or the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg. Only three of the tracks are reworkings of Algiers tracks—the glorious “Epic,” the lost, nostalgic “The Vanishing Mind,” and the country-tinged, darkly optimistic “Fortune Teller.”
The other tracks are picked from their other works, making Spiritoso a must-have for any fan of the band. Songs like “The News About Williams” already contain a heavy narrative within the lyrics, but the orchestral accompaniment just adds another dimension to the music. The highlight for me is “Black Heart,” which becomes downright cinematic.
Even “Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal),” with its heavy Latin influence, and the Spanish “Inspiración” benefit from this treatment without betraying the original feeling of the songs. For new fans, this could be a great way to check out Calexico’s back catalog, and current fans will adore the way Spiritoso goes above and beyond the typical live album. Twelve songs would be a short set for a concert, but this demonstrates the power, immediacy, and finesse of the band’s music live.