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Orlando Weeks recently launched his solo career with ‘Safe In Sound’, a track that inspired comparisons with the likes of The Blue Nile and Talk Talk. Now the former Maccabees frontman releases his first solo album A Quickening’. As the birth of Orlando Weeks’ son drew near, he wanted to try to make sense of an experience that is both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. The result is A Quickening, an album that tells the story from the point of view of a prospective father-to-be, a figure both vital to the story and yet also somewhat removed, in awe of what the mother goes through and often helpless to do anything about it. Weeks’ voice shimmers as it expresses feelings of love, fear and wonder that are overwhelming but still delicate. Drums trip, woodwind and brass can be heard, piano lines run in and out, vocals layer and guitars are few and far between. This is not the indie rock and roll that some may have predicted. You might think of Talk Talk. You might think of Robert Wyatt. You might think of Radiohead or Bon Iver. You might think of the wonder of Kate Bush. You might think of Lambchop’s late career electronic turn, replacing in that case Kurt Wagner’s Nashville-inflected fragments with Orlando’s chiming and pure delivery, served up by way of South London..
A Quickening does that rarest of things – it makes you slow down, and experience the album at its...
A Quickening is the debut solo album from ex-Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks – it chronicles the birth of his son, in reverse. Opening track ‘Milk Breath’ is the only song with Weeks as a father; the remaining 10 chart the journey from that moment backwards. From the pregnancy scan of ‘St. Thomas’’, to the realisation he will become a parent on ‘Dream’ – the ordinary sits alongside the extraordinary. Weeks has made an album entirely different to his work with that band, something more in the wheelhouse of Thom Yorke or Bon Iver. His haunting, fragile voice floats over piano, synthesizer, the occasional strummed guitar – if there are ever drums, they’re skittering, barely there. These songs feel like cycles more than anything, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus this is not. Weeks has a knack for pinning down the tiny detail that evokes the whole. It brings to mind songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers; it doesn’t matter if you can’t relate materially to what they describe, because their narration of the subtleties immediately transports you there with them. When Weeks watches the “rise and fall” of his son’s “milk chest”, when he “see[s] those fingers signalling”, we’re holding this expectant father’s hand every step of the way. I have a feeling that A Quickening won’t receive the acclaim it deserves, which is a pity. The solo project from an ex-frontman telling of his journey into fatherhood could easily slip into Richard Curtis territory, and when an album is this slight, it’s no surprise when it makes a fairly small splash. But stick with it. As it unfurls before you, A Quickening does that rarest of things – it makes you slow down, and experience the album at its own pace. Take the time to do so, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtakingly beautiful journey.