Anthony Quails releases new EP
We begin Anthony Quails new EP The Man I Thought I’d Never Be with a Paul Simon-style ballad in “As Long As I’m With You” that slowly but surely warms us up to the homespun songwriting of the record like nothing else could have, and while this introduction to The Man I Thought I’d Never Be is a short and sweet one – at just two and a half minutes long – it makes up for what it lacks in size with a molten-hot melody as richly textured as it is entrancing to all within earshot. Quails might have translated as charmingly shy in his first album, but in this second offering, he sounds confident in his abilities and, more than anything else, like he’s playing for keeps.
The title track in The Man I Thought I’d Never Be isn’t much longer than the song that precedes it, but inside of just three minutes’ time, it unfurls a poetic strut that is impossible to shake once you’ve experienced it for the first time. Each word that slips away from Quails’ lips weighs a thousand pounds, but when his verses make first contact with us, their sublime accessibility softens the blow. It’s a similar story with the utterly spellbinding “I Wish That I Was Him,” a track that celebrates Americana with alternative means more than it does traditional concepts best left in the 20th century. Quails is clearly a man of astute knowledge when it comes to his medium, but he isn’t letting personal affections for iconic songwriters to skew his writing in any way here.
“There’s a Reason That You’re Breathing” is possibly the most mature and tuneful song that you’re going to discover when scanning through the tracklist of The Man I Thought I’d Never Be, and though it’s got a rather indulgent reverberation to its trademark vocal harmony, this isn’t enough to prevent its melody from imparting a cratering emotionality to those of us in the audience who love balladic indie folk. Quails is an incredible singer, and while I could spend a lot of time praising his instrumental prowess as it’s been highlighted on this EP, there’s no disputing the fact that at the center of every great composition here is a vocal that knows no equal in the American underground at the moment.
The Man I Thought I’d Never Be comes to a conclusion with the epic “It’s Okay to Have Nothing to Say,” a five-minute dirge of decadence and discordant melodicism that ushers us back into the silence in the most cinematic of fashions a closing song can without eroding in bombast (something a little more common among progressive outings than it is acoustic-driven records). Along with Melissa Ruth, Wilhelm, Darren Jessee and W.C. Beck, I would classify Anthony Quails as one of the more important artists to keep your eye on in 2020 after hearing the results from his latest trip into the recording studio, and if you’re in the mood for a transcendent piece of surreal American folk to get your year started right, you’d be hard-pressed to find another disc quite like this one at the moment.