Scott Cooper’s latest record opens with a track that would crack a smile on Sir George Martin’s face. Stationary Satellite features mellotron, double-tracked vocals, crisp drums, banjo, and a crescendo of horns, all on good ol’ hissy analogue tape.
With that first track, Cooper and producer Rob Szabo set a mood for Quiet Company, which, as the title suggests, maintains a mellow, thoughtful, introspective and sentimental vibe. However, quiet does not preclude the record from being musically complex; some might even suggest it is more challenging to make an interesting collection of calm music than it is to blow the roof off of a record.
Cooper and Szabo skilfully sprinkle the the album with a wide variety of delicious sounds, including piano, B3 and pump organs, Rhodes piano, banjo, cellos, flugelhorns, trumpets and a bevy of acoustic and electric guitars. This leads us to talk about my favourite instrument of all: the human voice. Scott Cooper will never blow you away with his range or power, but he sings in a familiar, comfy-warm-sweater tenor with enough range and discipline to pull off the various layerings that he employs on Quiet Company. His is the only male voice on the record, and it works.
But about halfway into the CD, Cooper reaches to the top shelf, and pulls down one of Canada’s most distinctive and professional voices, that of Caroline Brooks of the Juno-winning trio, The Good Lovelies. Brooks lends her goosebumping talents to several tracks, including a duet on the fabulous closing number, There Will Come A Light. Much like Sarah McLachlan’s work on Blue Rodeo’s Five Days in May, Caroline Brooks’ strong presence on Scott Cooper’s Quiet Company takes the record from very good to wonderful.
Lyrically, be careful: the Penetanguishene, Ontario resident is deeply honest and candid. He has a way of hitting you right across the jaw when you least expect it:
(from Truth Is A Change):
lately a darkness has been building
something might break on through the calm
truth is, the silence makes it easy
truth is a change we do not want
Truth is, however, there’s a lot to love about Scott Cooper’s Quiet Company. Enjoy responsibly.