With elegant ease, strings ignite melodies that listeners won’t soon forget in all five of the tracks included on the new record from Anthony Quails, The Man I Thought I’d Never Be, which is set to debut this January 31st everywhere quality indie folk is sold and streamed. From the crisp harmony of “There’s a Reason That You’re Breathing” to the ache of the title track and “It’s Okay to Have Nothing to Say,” Quails doesn’t hold anything back from us on the instrumental end of the record, all the while illustrating his emotions with poignant poeticisms that are exquisitely well-suited to the simplistic compositions they’re found in. “As Long As I’m With You” sets the pace at the start of the EP with a brittle rhythm that, much like what pushes along “I Wish That I Was Him,” isn’t all that different from the uncertain pitter-patter of a lover’s heart, and even when this tracklist feels a little more melancholic than it does commentarial, there’s scarcely a moment where it feels as though our leading man isn’t being as vulnerable as an artist can be from within the confines of four studio walls.
Lyrically speaking, there’s a lot for us to unpack in The Man I Thought I’d Never Be. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Quails is going out of his way to be enigmatic with the verses here, there are a lot of different themes in play in songs like “There’s a Reason That You’re Breathing” and “I Wish That I Was Him” that make it difficult for even the most dedicated of critics to categorize the material under conventional genre terms.
At the midway point of this EP, it seems as though the relationship between the strings and the vocal is serving as some sort of grand metaphor for the characters being described so plainly in the title track and record-opening “As Long As I’m With You.” We’re given the opportunity to relate to Quails in several different ways as we get closer to the finish line – in both his multidimensional words and the harmonies that shadow them like lingering ghosts, he’s making a statement about himself as much as he is the world around him.
Despite its short running time, Anthony Quails’ The Man I Thought I’d Never Be is undisputedly one of the more moving and profoundly in-depth records in the indie folk genre that I’ve come across lately, and if it’s any sort of an indication as to what I can expect to hear out of his next full-length offering – the official sequel to Before the Bright Lights – his next release is going to be even more lauded than his debut was. There are a lot of rough edges in Quails sound that I wouldn’t want him to even consider sanding down as he presses on with his career, but if there’s one thing I would love to see him continue to refine, it’s his composing skillset. He’s developing into quite the songwriter, and this material is highly reflective of his evolved palate as a steward of the ever-evolving folk music model.
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