In a previous post, we took a look at Sixpence None the Richer’s sophomore effort, This Beautiful Mess, perhaps one of the best albums of the 90s. It crossed my mind to look at their more commercially successful self-titled album released in 1997, which contains the hit songs “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes,” but then I thought, why not first take a look at the E.P. sandwiched in between the two?
Tickets for a Prayer Wheel was released six months after their beautiful Beautiful Mess. It seems I read somewhere a backstory related to record-company contractual agreements and other drama, and so it was never fully finished.
Having said that, what we have is still pretty darn good.
The E.P. starts off with two versions (a radio edit and a demo) of their Christian radio single, “Within A Room Somewhere,” a song which more or less could have been just cut from this project altogether rather than having two versions back to back. But songs three (Healer) and four (Dresses), though, are impressive and harken back to This Beautiful Mess and still today, is among the band’s best material. The E.P. is worth the ticket price (see what I did there?) for just those two songs alone.
As the E.P. moves on, we get a grungy updated version of Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand,” and the hauntingly beautiful acoustic “Carry You” with nice fretless bass leads. From there, we get a glimpse of what the band can do instrumentally with the next two songs. Matt Slocum takes to the cello on the soft “Alisha’s First Steps” and then the band forges onto the rhythmic and perhaps somewhat improvisational live-electric, “Solomon the Mystic.”
The E.P. ends with a dance mix of “Love, Salvation and the Fear of Death” (the original version was released on Beautiful Mess). This is a more interesting re-do than the E.P.’s openers, mainly because it deviates much more from the original.
Though overall this is worth adding to every Sixpence fan’s collection, the songs do seem gathered from an unfinished whole, and one can’t help but wonder what might have been.