Bold statement: This is my new favorite album.
I will readily admit that my tastes can be a bit narrow. But, I like what I like. I like spaghetti, and the color purple and I like alt.country music. And Will Quinlan writes some gorgeous alt.country music and some damn fine songs.
I don’t spend much time thinking about Florida, except when AutopsyIV over at Nine Bullets tells me to pay attention. So when he reviewed a recent live show featuring Will Quinlan and the Diviners and Truckstop Coffee and flagged this album for me, I was anxious to hear it. (Note: That show was in Ybor City! Apparently that is a real place and not just the scene of the crime in many Hold Steady songs).
Will Quinlan and his band seem to be an established, respected act in the Tampa music scene, but I have to believe they could hold their own on any stage between here and there. This album, Navasota, is a tribute to Will Quinlan’s late mother and is named after the small Texas town she grew up in. The word “Navasota” evokes a kind of American Everytown, or an amalgam of the small towns country singers grow up in (and then grow up to romanticize and lament). Likewise, this album employs every element of its genre and lands smack in the auditory and emotional heartland center of contemporary Americana. It has the right amount of pedal steel and harp and hints at bluegrass without diverging too far from the well-beaten path. It also has obligatory references to East Texas, the 1970′s and radio.
What’s most compelling to me about this album, however, is Quinlan’s vocals. At times (“Hallowed Ground”) he could be mistaken for Uncle-Tupelo-era Jay Farrar. On other tracks (“The Thieving Life”) he’s more Richard Buckner, producing a plaintive but restrained emotion – one that is perfectly suited to the band’s instrumentation.
I’ve probably listened to this album twice a day for the last ten days and have yet to tire of it. If you’re a fan of alt.country, this album is about as good as it gets these days. Buy it here or on emusic .
Will Quinlan and the Diviners: Navasota