QUILES & CLOUD – Shake Me Now (Compass)

Shake Me NowAlthough conveniently filed under NewGrass, there’s more to San Francisco based duo Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud that bluegrass, Shake Me Now, their third album, produced by label founder Alison Brown, evidencing traces of jazz, classical, blues and folk. With Oscar Westesson on upright bass essentially making them a trio, it’s moodily overcast folk that dominates the opening track, ‘Black Sky Lightning’ with its fingerpicked tracery and pulsing bass, getting slightly airier with the strummed love song ‘On My Way Tonight’ before the title track brings it back to calmer, more reflective ground.

The traditional roots are evidenced with covers of both ‘Deep Ellum Blues’, the first on which Cloud’s vocals have equal prominence, and ‘Worried Man Blues’, a folk chestnut popularised by Woody Guthrie. Along with these there’s also a cover of relatively more recent origin, Cloud taking wearied lead on a slow paced interpretation of Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’.

Everything else is original material, ranging in style from the fiddle-backed American roots folksiness of ‘By The Rio Grande’ and the stripped and slow waltzing ‘Hero’s Crown’ to the crooning harmonies of ‘Mississippi River’ and the itchier, swampier blues that drive ‘Feelin’ Good’.

Quiles has a gentle, soothingly engaging voice, and it’s heard to good effect on the a capella harmonising opening to the five minute ‘Faded Flower’ before a lonesome acoustic campfire guitar picks up the spare melody. Closing with a one mic bonus recap of ‘Black Sky Lightning’ that ups the tempo, this is one for the hours as evening draws in and you sit there staring at the vastness of the skies. Front porch optional.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Quiles & Cloud link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.quilesandcloud.com

‘By The Rio Grande’ – live session:

Quiles & Cloud announce their debut album

Quiles & Cloud

When Maria Quiles (pronounced key-less) and Rory Cloud met in 2011, both were adrift. Maria had quit her job, given up her San Francisco apartment, and moved in with her uncle in order to pursue music full-time. Rory had left behind a stable schedule of gigs and music lessons in Southern California to seek a new music community elsewhere. He eventually wound up living out of his Toyota Corolla in San Francisco, where he first heard Maria at an open mic. “As a lead guitar player, I could immediately hear myself in her songs.” Rory remembers.

Several years of touring and spending nearly every day together allowed Quiles & Cloud to develop a unique sound—one that is characterized by soulful melodies, close harmonies, and interweaving guitar lines that owe as much to jazz and classical music as to folk and bluegrass. The addition of Oscar Westesson (upright bass) in 2013 pushed them even further as songwriters, resulting in darker, more complex, and more dissonant arrangements.

Their sound has struck a chord with audiences all over the country. Folk Alley has lauded the group’s “continued ability to combine subtle precision with stark grit and creative exploration.” Acoustic Guitar has called them “a compelling new voice on the Americana scene.” Quiles & Cloud have now played hundreds of shows, won the 2014 FreshGrass Duo Award, and caught the attention of Grammy Award-winning banjo player Alison Brown – who worked with the band for a day in the studio as part of their Fresh Grass Awards package and then went on to produce a full length album, Shake Me Now.

Shake Me Now is stripped-down, yet dense. There are musical and lyrical traces of the blues, bluegrass, folk, rock, soul, and classical music. Their songwriting stands out on the title track, ‘Shake Me Now’ as well as the upbeat and hopeful ‘One My Way Tonight’. In addition to their original songs, there are reinterpreted versions of the traditional blues number ‘Deep Ellum Blues’, the traditional folk tune ‘Worried Man Blues’, and Bob Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’. One gets the feeling of being on a widescreen road trip through America’s past and present, with multiple eras and traditions folding in upon each other. The result sounds familiar and roadworn, yet completely new—a quality that Quiles & Cloud share with some of American music’s greatest innovators.

Quiles & Cloud have already travelled far. As they see it, though, this is only the beginning of a lifelong journey – one of exploring connection, deepening their partnership, and examining the threads that tie us all together.

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Quiles & Cloud link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: https://quilesandcloud.com/

‘Shake Me Now’: