What better way to celebrate Stephen Christian’s birthday than to review his latest album, The Quiet Life, from his side-project Anchor & Braille? The sophomore album has been long anticipated by fans following the band’s 2009 debut of Felt. The Quiet Life follows up and will be released online and in stores on July 31st by Tooth And Nail Records. For those who pre-ordered the album, packages have already begun to arrive. The Quiet Life was written over the past three years by Christian, influenced by the past few years of his life as a married man and traveling musician.
The album opens with the upbeat, Goes Without Saying. The song is catchy and sets the theme of the record, making it a suitable first single for the new album. Knew Then Know Now follows up. Personally speaking, this is my favorite song on the album. Not only is this a song listeners can enjoy listening to, it is a song which one can learn from. The lyrics are well put together, and inspiring. The song as a whole is incredibly uplifting.
Find Me continues the album. Since hearing first hearing the demo version a while ago, it was hard to imagine that the song could be much better. Upon listening to the album version however I was surprised to hear how much better the song had become. Perhaps the only change I would make to the song is placing it before Knew Then Know Now to as it almost seems to be a precursor of the track. The song is slower than the previous tracks, but makes for a smooth transition into the returning upbeat style of the following track, In With The New. The song is in a similar style as Goes Without Saying although with a bit more aggressive feel to it with it’s distorted vocals and crisp drum beats.
Once again the album slows down as If Not Now When follows. The subtle percussion and the rest of the instrumentation contribute heavily to the passionate feel of the song. All of Anchor & Braille’s songs are quite passionate, but this song in particular stands out. Kodachrome, which follows, is almost the polar opposite of If Not Now When. Kodachrome has a rough and raw feel to it compared to its precursor, with its bright feel and polished vocals. Kodachrome on the other hand shows an almost aggressive tone right from the beginning and ends even more so. The track easily stands out on the album as the boldest song on the album.
What follows next is the slowly-building ballad Collapse. While the lyrics are passionate and meaningful, at times they are difficult to hear, occasionally being overshadowed by the instrumentation. Despite this, the song is still overall powerful and captivating. Hymn For Her was perhaps the biggest surprise for me listening to the album. When listening to the rough demo for the first time I was unsure of whether the song would be as great as it eventually turned out to be. The finished product is emotional and vehement, it is truly amazing. Songs on this album such as this thoroughly show how much Anchor & Braille has grown over time and leaves us anticipated for what is next to come on the album, and from the band as well.
As the album draws ever nearer to a close, the band presents a cover of Jeff Buckley’s Everybody Here Wants You. Fear not Buckley fans – Christian’s vocals do the song justice while at the same time providing the song with it’s own unique and distinctive feel. Christian’s vocals shine all throughout the song, and his brilliant vocal talents are especially able to be heard during the bridge of the song. The album draws to a close with Before I Start Dreaming. In this closing song, the album is brought to an appropriate close. The song presents some of the greatest and most intimate lyrics of the album, and the vocals are clearly impassioned. The instrumentation of the song complements the lyrics and vocals marvelously, adding further to the intimate feel of the song and it’s overall magnificence.
In conclusion, with its splendid arrangement of vocals, lyrics and instrumentation The Quiet Life is certainly one of the finest releases this year. Stephen Christian does not fail to meet expectations with this release, and will surely leave his audience wishing for more. Upon listening to the album one can easily hear how much the band has improved over the years. One can only wonder how much more the band can and surely will improve over time. The Quiet Life is undoubtedly a must-have album for Anchor & Braille fans, and will be an impressive surprise for music-lovers of all ages.
CCMF rating: 4.5/5