Will Quinlan & the Diviners
Ironweed Music Recordings
I am a huge fan of Americana and alt-country music. Most of the music sends me back to the days of open prairie and farm houses, while still keeping me anchored in the present and in the feelings of hope and desolation. It probably helps that I live in western Nebraska and still see vast numbers of open fields and farm houses and can be subject to bouts of loneliness. But occasionally there is an artist or band who reminds me why I am a fan of said music. Will Quinlan & the Diviners is one of those bands. Their debut album Novasota is so emotional and passionate that it is almost perfect.
It’s like Son Volt, except you can understand the lyrics. Quinlan’s voice is very much like Jay Farrar’s and the music is the perfect blend of country, bluegrass, rock, and folk.
The album opens with the heavily country “Hallowed Ground” followed by the brilliantly cryptic “Remember The Beatitudes.” “I swear to Christ we will make them pay/ With their dead hearts/ With their lives/ South San Pedro will burn tonight/ As we shed our sins in this perilous light.”
“Acrimony Blues” has Quinlan guitar-pickin’ like the instrument was a banjo, while “Plastic Rosary (Winter 1970)” is slower, more country fare that has Quinlan flawlessly using his secret weapon, female harmonies courtesy of Rebekah Pulley, Francis French III, and Soraya Zanmeyer.
Quinlan and his crew throw so much passion into the track “St. Theresa” that I literally get tears in my eyes because it’s just so damn good. (That’s not sarcasm. I’m being 100% honest. I tear up when I hear the song.) “St. Theresa/ I don’t know/ How to follow/ Where you go.” That’s a lyric of desperation. Top that with layer upon layer of buildup and it explodes into Quinlan singing, “I’m so sorry/ Goodbye.” This song encapsulates pent-up sorrow with music that is laced with hope. I have not heard a song this good in a very long time.
Novasota is nothing short of brilliant. Will Quinlan & the Diviners is unquestionably one of the top five groups in the Americana genre today. After listening to this album I don’t think that anybody can argue that. If anybody tried, I could prove them wrong, just by pressing play.
Ironweed Music: www.ironweedmusic.com