A departure of sorts from previous Mojave 3 recordings, Spoon and Rafter features a vast array of instrumentation, such as banjo and harmonica, that lends itself easily to traditional folk music while abandoning the guitar-heavy feel of the band's earlier works. Piano instrumentation is much more prominent here, providing an even more melancholy feel to a collection of tunes that focus on the theme of broken hearts. This is not to say that the album is all traditional country. There are rich layers of Moog synthesizers, as well as vibraphones and spacey steel guitars, which contribute to the overall ambience of the tracks.
With intensely creative and personal lyrics, Neil Halstead and company continue their trend of crafting songs that appeal to an audience as diverse as the sounds that they themselves fashion. Cuts like "Battle of the Broken Hearts," evoke Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, with bouncing rhythms, stirring vocal melodies and lines like: "No one wants you when you're broken/No one needs you when you bleed/You can't love me 'cause I'm broken /You can't hold me while I'm blue." On the eerily lilting "Tinker's Blues," the band conjures up the spirit of Nick Drake while remaining true to its own unique voice. "She's All Up Above" is a heartrending ballad with beautiful lyrics and a slow, driving rhythm; coupled with "Too Many Mornings," it makes for a familiar nod to the outfit's previous recordings.
Mojave 3 has produced a stunning and complex collection that will appeal to devoted fans, new listeners and those interested in the new Americana movement. The sound of Spoon and Rafter is a natural and very large step forward in the growth of an engaging and creative act with its eyes eagerly focused on the future, confident in its own development.