by Dan O
I’ve heard Alive Ain’t Always Living by Quelle Chris a lot. In my kitchen, in the car, in playlists it was the first listenable single that triggered my immediate preorder of the new album DEATHFAME. It’s a powerful testament to the spiritual warmth Chris Keys and Quelle can create together. The piano radiates warmth as Quelle digs into a genuine emotional place many are scared to go. “Need to make some bold decisions, call your folks while they’re still living, let them know you right here with them. Don’t go ghost…” We all wondered if the album could replicate this warm hug of a first song.
How Could You Love Something Like Me is also Chris Keys and Quelle co-production but the piano is slow and sad. His voice doesn’t leap from word to word it thuds in an echo chamber stating flatly “…it seems so hopeless.” For some reason my first thought was about the uncomfortably unique album Small Change by Tom Waits and how utterly inebriated/on the edge he sounded. The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) felt too real too close to someone falling off the edge. Somehow, Quelle and Keys nail that discomfort, that deeply abiding morose intelligence and put it on the same album as Alive Ain’t Always Living. I want to play How Could You Love Something Like Me for my wife, when I do I’ll simply tell her this is what Kermit would sing if he lost everything. DEATHFAME has Quelle Chris singing (and rapping his face off) but these two songs feel like siblings sharing a bedroom. To feel love, gratitude, awe only to have the floor collapse down the slide to anxiety, incompleteness, raw unpolished self-shame. It’s a testament to Quelle moving beyond flow switches and hot 16s to a place of constant emotional immediacy. A vigilance that is all time important.
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