Quarterman - Carondelet - Release tbc (Late March / April 2021)
There’s always something exciting about someone from a band you like releasing a solo album and in a time when there seems to be a lot less music being made than usual and getting out to gigs seems like a distant dream, I was intrigued to hear what Man The Lifeboats frontman Rich Quarterman had come up with.
Firstly, it’s very different from Man The Lifeboats. I had the opportunity to interview Rich about the making of Carondelet (shameless plug for you to read the interview) and he described the songs on this album as ones that the band had rejected. You can easily tell why and that is in no way an indictment of their quality, there is still plenty of the kind of engrossing storytelling you’ve come to expect from Man the Lifeboats here. These songs are different though, quieter, slower paced, with a gentleness about them that wouldn’t lend itself to the band’s more rambunctious style.
"Outsiders" is a perfect example of the stripped back, one man and his guitar style (ok, there’s some harmonica action in there too) and it sets the reflective tone of the album while still retaining a hopeful air as it comes to its final conclusion.
It’s a record that feels like it was written in lockdown, although all the songs were written before COVID-19 hit the UK. Single release "Bonnie" exemplifies this tone of yearning to be somewhere else or with someone that you have been separated from. This makes the album feel very resonant and of the moment. There’s a little bit of self-indulgence here as well in the lengths of some of the songs, but honestly, why not? We’ve all got time, we’re certainly not going anywhere (mostly because every other country in the world is quite rightly refusing us to let us in)
"Fisherman" works as a timely reminder that those of us who are confined to our homes are lucky to have the luxury of a safe place to wait out the pandemic and resume our normal lives. Can something so damning really be described as gentle? That’s how it feels though. "Kings Cross Baby" is a bit jauntier in the melody, but doesn’t lighten the lyrical tone.
"The Caledonian" is the most rousing of the tracks, the one that will have you longing to be able to spend an evening in a pub with your mates, the one that will make you remember February 2020 with more of a fondness than it really deserves. It also contains one of my favourite aphorisms ever; “It’s all fun games until somebody loses an eye”.
The album closes with "(On The Overwhelming Sadness Of) Gravity", filled with melancholy and longing along with an understanding of the inevitability of life’s trials, it’s a great way to end the record.
An album that speaks of so many places and times and yet manages to fit perfectly into the space and time it’s been released in. I’m sorry to describe our lives as small, but let’s face it, at the moment that’s exactly what they are and Rich is providing big songs for little lives.
For me, it’s a departure from what normally makes it to my playlists, but I really enjoyed it. In fact, it might just be my favourite thing to come out of lockdown (well, this and dogs in work meetings).
Highlights: "Outsiders", "Fisherman", "The Caledonian", and "(On The Overwhelming Sadness Of) Gravity"
Rating - 4/5