Iâ€™ve already praised Calexicoâ€™s offering this year (the stunning Algiers), but theyâ€™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 tracksâ€”the glorious â€œEpic,â€ the lost, nostalgic â€œThe Vanishing Mind,â€ and the country-tinged, darkly optimistic â€œFortune Teller.â€
The other tracks are picked from their other works, making Spiritoso a must-have for any fan of the band. Songs like â€œThe News About Williamsâ€ already contain a heavy narrative within the lyrics, but the orchestral accompaniment just adds another dimension to the music. The highlight for me is â€œBlack Heart,â€ which becomes downright cinematic.
Even â€œMinas De Cobre (For Better Metal),â€ with its heavy Latin influence, and the Spanish â€œInspiraciÃ³nâ€ benefit from this treatment without betraying the original feeling of the songs. For new fans, this could be a great way to check out Calexicoâ€™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 bandâ€™s music live.