What to say about Havalina? The band ("Havalina Rail Company" on previous releases) is one of the few groups on the Christian scene that is consistently, even adamantly committed to originality. That commitment has produced tremendously varied recordings, including albums heavily influenced by traditional Russian music (Russian Lullabies), jazz (Diamond in the Fish) and Americana (America). Havalina continues the creative effort with its newest album, Space Love & Bullfighting.

The album is a musical journey from modern rock normality into a flurry of creative experimentation. The album starts with what sounds like B-52s-with-crunchy-guitars (Space and Mexico) and ends with a song of casual, even dreamy vocals that flips abruptly into a jazz-backed monologue about life in a monastery, and other motifs (Space Love & Bullfighting Suite). True to form, Havalina offers a combination of modern rock, '80s alternative, traditional Spanish, and music that is outright strange.

Lyrics usually focus on . . . well -- space, love, and bull fighting. The songs touch on madness, the fall of a matador, singing cowboys, love, almost-breaking-up and breaking up. The production works rather well. Instrumentation is competent but not striking (not surprising for a group exhibiting so much diversity over the years), but the band uses musical styles the way some composers use instruments: styles weave in and out from track to track -- and within each track -- to tie together lyrical themes.

The lyrics are the album's most profound strength. Songs speak of adventure, tragedies, and romantic love with a tenderness, honesty and creativity that can be shocking, in the best way. While some artists on Christian radio struggle to rise above the cliché, and while so many bands on non-Christian radio make a name by caring as little as possible, it is magnificent to see a group of Christians dismissing the trite and singing about the winsome, the heartrending and the amusing in an original and compassionate way.