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Quiles & Cloud Quiles & Cloud
Album: Shake Me Now
Label: Compass
Tracks: 11

Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud first met at an open mic in San Francisco back in 2011 and immediately struck up a fruitful relationship.

Maria's distinctive vocals and Rory's thoughtful acoustic guitar marked them out from the crowd and they have gone from strength to strength since then.

The addition of Oscar Westesson on upright bass in 2013 pushed them even further and brought about more complex arrangements.

Shake Me Now is their third album. It is mellow, dark, creative and beautifully produced by Grammy Award-winning banjo player Alison Brown.

There are references to places throughout America to give their music a sense of where they are from. Most of the songs are performed by the trio, which the exception of On My Way Tonight which features the lovely fiddle playing of Stuart Duncan and percussion from Byron Larrance. Stuart also plays on By The Rio Grande.

The album pays respect to those who have gone before with traditional songs such as Feelin' Good and Faded Flowers and Worried Man Blues as well as a nod to Mr Dylan with his You Ain't Goin Nowhere.

But it is the incise writing of their own songs such as Hero's Crown, with its delightful harmonies and precise arrangement, that stands out for me.

There are two versions of Black Sky Lightning, including a powerful single mic version that brings this polished album to a close.

The pace is most definitely mellow for the most part. Maria's voice is strong and musical and is ably supported by Rory's tight guitar lines, and the probing bass of Oscar, which is a delight. The results are elegant and repay repeated listening. Well done to all concerned.

If you enjoy the music of artists such as Alison Krauss and Union Station, then this duo should be on your radar.

John Knighton