If there are two words to sum up Grandaddy’s sixth studio album, they are ‘pedal steel’. It is an instrument that can take you to the depths of despair or the stars in the sky. It is perfectly suited to Grandaddy founder Jason Lytle’s penchant for gentle indie rock and the maestro leans firmly into its obvious affinity to country music on Blu Wav.

This is a curious little album of country americana through a cosmic lens of bittersweet stargazing from the wide open space of the desert. Many of the 13 songs are composed in 3/4 time, underpinned by simple acoustic chords, layered with spacey synths and blissful vocal harmonies. ‘Cabin In My Mind’ speaks of the “long and lonely road.” While ‘Long As I’m Not The One’ yearns for company: “I’m all alone now, you know I don’t like it.”

Strip away the production and you’ve very much got three chords and the truth. But this is Grandaddy and the ethereal middle-eight on ‘You’re Going to be Fine and I’m Going to Hell’ takes the song to a grander scale.

The recurrence of romance, heartbreak and resentment provides much of the foundation for Blu Wav. The lovelorn ‘On a Train Or A Bus’ wonders where an ex-love is now as the lilting vocal asks: “That dream we shared / was it the truth or dare?”

It is a record that kind of comes and goes. Each song in itself is a pleasant, thoroughly Grandaddy composition. No track really captivates but as a whole piece, it just about holds your attention as we follow the story of this lo-fi cowboy. That said, it could at times use some more beefed up guitar to mix things up and inject some energy into proceedings. The album’s interludes (title track ‘Blu Wav’, ‘Let’s Put the Pinto on the Moon’ and ‘Yeehaw AI in the Year 2025’) help to give the main songs space to breathe on this exploratory collection. Lytle’s distinctive vocal style is almost symbiotic to the beauty of the pedal steel, which is omni-present throughout. This is alt…alt.country, borrowing traditional structures and lyrical motifs of the white man’s blues and marrying them to samples, soundscapes and the great beyond.

This album feels more like a part one, and certainly the epic finale of ‘Nothin’ to Lose’ suggests this is a first entry into something bigger. The protagonist here will, “Cut and run towards the sun / our work here’s done” as the track builds on a dry acoustic strum and mood-setting keys. It feels like the climax to an old cowboy movie, as layers build and the tone develops.

Perhaps Blu Wav is the beginning of a new age for Grandaddy. The outro hears Lytle intone: “The credits roll / over it all.” It feels like the dance of death as we wait for Lytle’s man with no name to make his move. The credits to this record roll on ‘Blu Wav Buh-Bye’, certainly suggesting there’s more to come and explore from this much loved band.