Amen Breaks

Quiet Hollers

sonaBLAST! Records, 2017

http://www.quiethollers.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/23/2018

On this third release, Louisville, KY-based Quiet Hollers adds much more depth and richness to their music than their previous efforts. The group’s 2013 debut I Am The Morning had an ostensible alt-country sound, featuring simple acoustic guitar song arrangements. Their 2015 self-titled sophomore effort was a big step forward, taking them toward a more diverse rock  sound. With a more polished and sophisticated sound than its predecessor, Amen Breaks takes the band’s music to the next level, moving farther away from their alt-country beginnings. Frontman Shadwick Wilde’s intense baritone vocals sound more contemplative than ever. The whole album has an  impeccably blissful feel for those who wish to seek some deep reflection. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Black + Red + White” is a number that evokes this type of mood perfectly. It’s constructed around a haunting whistled melody; however, even when it rises to a crescendo with rousing strings towards the end, it never looses its sense of calmness. Similarly, the title track, with its simple acoustic guitar and vocals, sounds as if it is meant to be performed around a campfire. Despite the thunderous drums and guitars that kick in later in the number, its serenity remains intact, just like a calming experience in the woods is not diminished by some rainfall.

The singles are interesting, as they run the gamut from quiet to loud. “St. Valentine’s Boys,” the softest number on Amen Breaks, is centered simply around a gently played acoustic guitar and pensive vocals. On the other hand, “Pressure” is a raucous full-on hard guitar-rock song, the only one of its kind on this record. In the middle is “Medicine,” which is totally nonchalant with a catchy guitar lick and swooning strings until you realize that this cut is about the very grave issue of mental illness.

Album highlights “The Path” and “Broken Guitar” best represent the moodier and more soulful side of this release. “The Path,” which is also the opening track, is big and dramatic, with Wilde’s passionate singing and equally fiery violins amplifying the drama. Still, all this explosiveness is well contained within the song’s peaceful angelic aura. “Broken Guitar” is the complete opposite and is totally calm and restrained through and through. It is a straight-up indie rock cut, nowhere near the band’s alt-country roots, led by groovy drumming that are quite danceable and very catchy.

Amen Breaks is an album for lonely times, or for times when you are cozying up with someone or something – maybe a glass of wine or a book. Either way, for those moments of quiet introspection, this release is certainly an elegant and rewarding musical choice.

Rating: B+

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