Following 2010’s debut Our Dusking Sound and the aptly titled Just Before the North EP, Michigan based band Small Houses return with their second LP North. Composed entirely by guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Quentin, with the recording featuring helping hands from fellow musicians Chris Bathgate (mandolin) and Jim Roll (vocals), alongside members of Frontier Ruckus and Red Tail Ring to name but a few, North traverses a dirt path of the rural American Mid-West; heading North.
In spite of this traditional rootsy outlook however the production is more polished than that of its lo-fi namesake EP and was recorded at Backseat Productions in Ann Arbor. The result is a sound both crisp in conviction and professionalism without belying the honesty placed at the album’s heart: these narratives tug in their own quiet way and so we’re eager to hear rather than begged. From breathtaking piano ballads to the country twinged ‘Country Flowers’; Quentin’s gruff vocals depict a traveller’s landscape in third person, sepia tinted memories in first, while vocals only wonders such as ‘I and My Maker’ almost convinces us it were a centuries old folk song, such is the timeless artistry displayed. There’s enough subtle diversity of instrumentation and musicians at hand on North to keep us following the compass.
I and My Maker