Small Houses site
Listening to this record by mid-Michigan-set/meandering-troubadour J. Quentin makes me feel as though there may actually be a distinguishing sound for the mitten state –
...a heavy-heart sound wafted with the exhilaration of escaping the rushing roar of tires on paved highway. Not necessarily that road-trip ready long player you stuff and pluck from your already overwrought backpack on the latest wilderness traipse (though it would certainly fit it), but a heavily autumnal and argyle sounding monograph; a delicate but doughty sound given the distinct varnish of dirt-speckled tawny leaves on blurring masses of oaks and maples particularly captured by the sonorous acoustic guitar and the coy wail of a violin. His airy murmur sets a heart wounded tinge, but not necessarily being like the ballads-of-the-melancholy so overly worn by many other solitary guitar slingers and intimate low-key lullabyers cluttering the folk fields.
But to hear his quavering wisp, the softly hugged harmonies, the resolutely/reeling delivery of freeform melodies and the overall goosebump-coaxing rouse of his subtle flair for pop - means that Sufjan Stevens will be an inevitable reference point – and its fitting that both of them are Michigan-lads. Small Houses matches Stevens' delivery of purity and both share abilities to marry the naïve and the worldly, their reverence for the roads, the bridges, the trees, the offramps, the treelines, the rest stops, the people met in one town and the critters scurrying the shrubs of the next town, (come to think of it, let's lasso Frontier Ruckus in, as a contemporary)...calming coos and brushed, bruised, windblown poetics –
Quentin is able to capture that overcast afternoon feeling, the impressionistic frame of fading browns and oranges upon somewhat sparse landscapes – it is the opening fanfare that rains down at the mouth of the Huron forest, or wheels its way up the sparse fields and coasts of our thumb’s tip or shuffles its feet over the sidewalks of Lansing – Michigan may be known for so much – from punk to techno to even probably some polka – but there’s something about the sound of a playfully plucked guitar and an austere toned voice melodiously musing like a yawning burst of love for the sting of fresh air through the nostrils and scooped through the lungs that seems to fit so well. Michigan - and the traditional folk-feel - the welcome of the road and the knowledge that a coastal view is always a mere hour or two from wherever you are – that’s sound's in Small Houses.
contributors include: Zach Nichols (Frontier Ruckus), Donny Brown (The Verve Pipe), John Krohn (The Casionauts, Syscrusher), Jen Sygit, Sam Corbin, Jon Rajewski (The Continental Things)