A Dead Man on My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., April 12, 2013
Quiet CompanyA Dead Man on My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited
"I wanted to say that I had a dead man on my back yesterday, but I cut him loose," croons Taylor Muse at the outset of "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History." The titled line serves well for Quiet Company's re-recording of 2006 debut LP Shine Honesty, taking back control of the local quintet's earliest tunes after the breakout success of third LP We Are All Where We Belong in 2011. Though retreads, they highlight just exactly how much Muse and company have matured in theme and sound over the past seven years. The breathy angst deployed by Muse on the original tracks, such as opener "How Many Times Do You Want to Be in Love," now peaks with a more assured delivery, no longer simply the by-product of a songwriter at the keys dressing up songs with synthesized strings, but rather that of a bandleader with full orchestration to bring his vision to life. "Fashionabel" pops with a tighter arrangement and fuller sound, as does the swelling "... Then Came a Sudden Validation," while "I Was Humming a New Song to Myself" smartly peels back. The calmer ballads "Love Is a Shotgun" and "So Gracefully" receive needed resurrection, but the calamitous "Circumstance" and drawn-out "We Change Lives" don't hold up as well, even with the added short segue, "I've Got a Lot of Problems With You People." Two additional new songs serve as an outro, the hard-driving "... And You Said It Was Pretty Here" and electro-warped "Gun Control Means Using Both Hands," and though neither fits well alongside the original tracks, they display the band pushing forward, even amid the familiar. With Shine Honesty out of print, the redo makes sense for business and primes the pump for further new offerings.