Country strong sound

A review of NQ Arbuckle’s latest album

NQ Arbuckle has been nominated for a Juno Award.
NQ Arbuckle has been nominated for a Juno Award.
Supplied by Gregory White

With vocals that seem both soothing and angry, and a togetherness that makes their sound effective at evoking both nostalgia and cheer, Toronto-based band NQ Arbuckle’s latest album The Future Happens Anyway is a hidden treasure within the country-rock genre.

Their latest album came out earlier this year, and is yet another seamless example of the band’s ultimate mastery of their style.

With a typical country twang to his voice, lead singer Neville Quinlan (the NQ in NQ Arbuckle) roars in with the first song “Back To Earth”. What sets Quinlan’s voice apart from other country rock singers is the passionate growl to which the listener is immediately introduced.

The second song “Red Wine” picks up the tempo midway through the song as the banjos begin to sound and the acoustic guitar picks up its pace.

“Art O’Leary”, the first ballad on the album’s constructed in the typical style of a melancholy country serenade, paying tribute to the passing of a loved one. The song manages to remain emotional while keeping true to the country-rock theme of the album.

The middle section of the album is marked by change, alternating back and forth between upbeat punchy rock anthems like “Life Boat (Song for Carolyn Mark)”, slower but equally as powerful love ballads like “Hot Shot” and “Rotary Phone” and hauntingly mellow numbers such as “I Wish That My Sadness Would Make You Change”, “The Civil War is Over” and “Eternal Father Strong to Save”. This part of the album keeps listeners on their toes. No two songs sound the same. A lack of unity isn’t always a good thing in terms of the overall quality of an album, but NQ Arbuckle manages to make it work.

Finishing off strong with the most moving number of the album, “Sleepy Wife”, Quinlan croons his way through at a steady and reluctant pace to leave the listener feeling sombre but also with a sense of closure as they delve deeper into thought and emotion.

Overall, the album goes through several different phases. Whether cheery and upbeat, leisurely and pensive, or somber and silky, The Future Happens Anyway has a little something for everyone.

NQ Arbuckle plays at the Mansion on Sept. 13.

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