ALBUM REVIEW: ORLANDO WEEKS – A QUICKENING (PLAY IT AGAIN SAM)
Orlando Weeks nurtures eleven delicate, yet powerful, tracks; A Quickening is an ode to his journey of becoming a father. The former Maccabees frontman has not changed, rather transitioned, to soothing vocals surrounded by percussion, woodwind, piano and brass to create one being – none of more intensity than the other.
“My son, my son, my son,” hums on ‘Milk Breath’, the opening track to his debut album. Tender vocals observe the early days of relationship between father and son. They work as both a lullaby for adult and child, much as this whole album does in its unique softness. Having always been a captivating storyteller – his first book, The Gritterman, was published three years ago – Weeks serenades the listener throughout, both vocals and instrumentals almost akin to a babbling brook in their seemingly effortless tranquility.
Tranquil though it is, A Quickening is intense in its own right. ‘All The Things’ begins with a fervent tambourine, before being joined by brass in the second verse. Neither vocals nor instrumentation power over the other; separate yet inseparable, they compliment each other in such a way that there is nothing else I could imagine them with. They are uniquely their own and each other.
Weeks acknowledges the importance and newness of parenthood yet explores the unique way in which it is ordinary. Singing on ‘None Too Tough’, “I wanna dance with someone, make a life with someone,” he seeks collaboration in his life, now something that is needed from both parties on a daily basis. With vocals stretching, he reflects the stretches of real life. Amongst brass and a hypnotic percussion, a beautiful collage of chaos is created, ebbing and flowing intricately.
‘Takes A Village’ stands out as one of my favourite tracks from the collection. Hearing it be performed at EartH, Hackney, earlier this March, I had longed to hear the album just to listen to this song. It’s simplicity and romance is cultivated through piano, vocals and bass. “It’s better if you’re always with me,” Weeks does not flood rooms with flowers, rather he explores the tender and ordinary. Much like he does with the whole LP, the ordinary is very much seen as the extraordinary in this song.
A Quickening is already my album of 2020. It is calm yet feverish, exploring delicate emotions through an equally delicate composition. While it may be a while away from what we have known from Weeks as the former Maccabees frontman, it is not different in that one is better than the other. Rather, we are able to explore with Weeks the maturity that has come from parenthood and thus seeped into his music. Tender vocals trace the pandemonium of brass, vocals and percussion, trickling over the top of the rumbling thunderstorm.