Quiet Quiet Band are known for channelling pagan ritual and deep thought into raucous folk music and rollicking tunes. So the first track on their new EP, ‘Come Home From The War’ is a surprise. This thoughtful, gentle Americana tune is more pensive than their previous offerings. It starts with a chilled out acoustic sound, quickly joined with trilling viola, then the clear declamatory vocals pierce into the heart of the message- “It’s in the body…”This is a song about corporeal being- the music reflects this with an almost funky feel at times- particularly in the mid-section, when a 12 bar blues guitar part takes us to a rootsy place. The song grows quite organically from here, manifesting the fleshiness the lyrics address.
The EP moves on to more recognisable territory with ‘Rum’. Starting with shanty-like harmonies, the song goes on to explore the world of the drunk. “With my good looks gone, they left when I turned to the drink”. This tune is filled with country twangs, fiddle backing and hoe-down whoops. The feel good vibe is juxtaposed with a sad message of alcoholism- “Waking up (whoo), throwing up (wooh), pissing inside of your sink” This is underpinned with a certain jouissance- “But I’d feel alright if you’d buy me a drink.” The second part of the song shows a nod to the band’s love of storytelling artists such as Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave as the content turns to the blues standard of a chat with the devil.
The focus of the EP is the topic of escapism – in a world that is spiralling into war, how people turn to love, drink and other distractions. It is a study in the widely political narrowing down into the personal stories of how we deal with this world. The third track on the release, ‘Soldier’, takes on some of these grave concerns. Stridently backed with percussive guitar and a minor violin harmony, the song concerns someone who has lost their path. This is the shortest song on the record and very earnest. Whilst moody, the band demonstrate more strength when they play with the incongruities of life- the other tracks mix joyful melody with serious subject matter or vice-versa, which results in richer, more nuanced sound and wider range of interpretation.
The final track, ‘Tony Robinson’ is homage to the man behind Baldric and Time Team. Starting with a jaunty violin backed jig- “Hurray for castles! Hurray for castles! Sha la la la, sha la la la, “the tune is counterpointed with a slow ballad of reverence. This then moves into a klezme like section with Yiddish sounding rhythmic vocals. The band are clearly massive fan-boys of Tony’s- referencing his readings of Ulysses, they obviously greatly admire this most British of heroes. The klezme theme is picked up again, with the slowly building bass and twirling violin. This side of the band is good fun and the tune is tightly arranged. Tony should be pleased.
Overall ‘Come Home From the War’ shows Quiet Quiet Band off to their best- all sides of the group’s musical and lyrical explorations are presented here to good effect. This band clearly has a good sense of themselves and the direction that they want to go in. Here’s to further journeys into the cosmic and prosaic with Quiet Quiet Band– it will be a fun and serious future.