Rightly or wrongly the Quireboys are generally portrayed and perceived to be re-treading the same musical path of early 70’s British rock. This has never bothered the band or indeed their fans, especially, in a live setting with an alcoholic beverage in hand. It is safe to say they will never depart from their 70’s British rock roots (and why should they?) but they haven’t stood still, in fact, they have played around with their sound with the inclusion of various instruments to do different versions from their back catalogue for acoustic shows.
So the plan was to spend a week holed up in a Swedish outback to write and record a few new songs and lay some older tracks down. What happened surprised the band themselves as the song-writing process gathered momentum and a whole album’s worth of material was penned and recorded. While it was always planned to be an acoustic affair the result has produced another set of well crafted songs and its about high time they are commonly recognised for this. More on the new stuff shortly, because this is being released as part of a 4 CD box set along with a re-issue of their first foray into acoustic territory, ”Halfpenny Dance’’, and 2CDs’ worth of live recordings of that said album while playing with additional musical instruments such as banjo, mandolin, fiddles, pedal steel and more.
So, onto the new album as it deserves your full attention. There are tracks which seem familiar Quireboys sound and will work live both acoustic and electric, ‘St Cecilia’, and especially ‘Out of your mind’ with its smoke filled bar room atmosphere. There is definitely a nod to the Rolling Stones early 70’s acoustic heights singing ‘Can’t hide it anymore’. ‘Gracie B’ oozes sex with its lowdown rootsy blues rhythm and Spike’s smokey vocals. ‘Adaline’ with its fine tinkering of piano is quality Bruce Springsteen and the E Street shuffle without the male testosterone chest beating. But the overall mood is something a bit darker with wonderful use of piano throughout and even strings in the superior ‘The promise’. They add mandolin to give a strong Celtic flavour on the thoughtful ‘The best are not forgotten’.
This distinctive melancholic leaning sound is also transferred to the lyrics. Spike sings on a reflective, even world weary tone, but it avoids moroseness because, lest not forget, art and beauty can be found in the ups and downs of life. And this is best supplied in the album closer ‘Why did it take so long?’ as happiness is eventually found. This is also probably the bravest song they have written – drum machine, big simple piano chords, and background organ. And Spike sings with real deep emotion, in fact is he making a point? Dare I say it but this could be covered by Simply Red! We all know Spike should have fronted the Faces reunion a few years ago instead of Mick Hucknell. But more importantly the song works! So put that in your pipe and smoke it Mick.
Fans of the Quireboys will find enough pleasure spread throughout the four discs but the new album ‘’St Cecilia and the gypsy soul’’ can stand up alone, and proves this is a band still in motion and not to be taken for granted, but to cherish, so take them to your hearts. Raise your glasses!