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Neil Halstead



As the leader of early '90s shoegazer stalwarts Slowdive, Neil Halstead was a respected and admired figure in the U.K. rock scene soon after turning 20. While that seminal band's brand of droning atmospherics earned them critical adulation and a cult fan base, as Halstead grew older he found himself increasingly fascinated with the English and American folk- and country-based rock of the 1960s. By the mid-'90s, internal dissension and label conflicts had led all of Slowdive's original members except Halstead and vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell to depart; those two, along with recently recruited drummer Ian McCutcheon, continued on as the excellent Mojave 3, a new venture which retained much of Slowdive's revered dreaminess but allowed Halstead to pursue his new interest in classicist songwriting. Mojave 3 quickly emerged as one of the finer independent bands of the late '90s, growing a bit more removed from their shoegazing roots with each successive album (of which there have been three now) of nostalgic sun-dappled and fog-twined folk-rock.

After 2000's magnificent Mojave 3 record Excuses for Travelers, Halstead split with his girlfriend and found himself homeless, so he moved into his studio temporarily. There he began playing around with some leftover Mojave 3 material and soon found himself with an album's worth of new stuff on his hands. The lovely, pensive Sleeping on Roads is a bit more intimate than any of Mojave 3's albums, leaving behind the lush, expansive quasi-country-rock Americana in favor of more English acoustic folk material that recalls the work of '70s British folksingers like Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. As with all Halstead material, the songwriting is impeccable and the arrangements pristine.