Quiet Marauder – The Gift
The thought of a concept album will probably send shivers down the spine for many older readers who remember Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, Rick Wakeman’s “Six Wives of Henry Vlll” or the more recent flawed genius of The Lemon Twigs’ “Go to School”. At their best concept/narrative albums not only tell a story, but also contain songs that can stand on their own merit such as Harry Nilsson’s “The Point”. “The Gift” was therefore approached with caution, but fears were unfounded; it is a wonderful album.
Simon Read, the founder of Quiet Marauder, is never short of ideas or ambition. Indeed one of the first times we encountered him was at a gig where he sat alone, note book in hand, deep in thought as the noise and social whirl spun around him. And after all Quiet Marauder are the band that gave us the longest debut album of all time!
The basic story line of “The Gift” revolves around a troubled teenage girl (Willow) haunted by visions of a mysterious house fire. Willow’s path is traced through well-meaning foster parents, teenage love interests, time-bending superpowers, distrust of domestic appliances and, ultimately, her own memories; covering themes of self-identity and the fallibility of human recall. It may not sound like the greatest pitch but the album is thoroughly enjoyable; at times sweet, at times humorous and at times quite moving.
Kadesha Drija takes the lead on most of the songs and her stand out vocals work well against Read’s more lugubrious vocal style. Stand out songs include “The Ballad of Loss and Self-doubt” which has a beautiful “Back to Black” quality about it and “Will to Remember” demonstrates Drija’s superb vocal delivery. The vocals of Simon Read also feature on several tracks such as the playful “The Future is Bright, The Future is Orange” and the moving “I, Robot”. It is a minor point, but there is no percussion/ drums on the album which at times does affect the pace and dynamics and several of the aforementioned songs could benefit from being expanded with bigger arrangements.
Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable and moving adventure and if any theatrical companies are looking for a modern musical project they should look no further than “The Gift”.