Housebroken Man, the new EP from Quiet Life, doesn’t wait long to introduce itself. A plinking piano and a chugging rhythm guitar practically kick the bar room doors open, letting the lilting voices of Sean Spellman and Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels and Rope) do-si-do on top. The titular housebroken man is “laying off the bourbon and the weed” but there’s enough winking knowingness here to give the listener doubt about its sticking power. It makes for a rousing opener.
“Shaky Hand” is another cautionary tale, this form in a Brucean ballad, about the dangers of booze. The next track, “Messin’ Around”, covers what goes wrong when those cautions go unheeded. “If I don’t die before I get old, I’m going to quit messing around,” Spellman sings.
Clearly, Quiet Life are leading anything but a tranquil existence. Growing success as an up-and-coming act can do that to a group. The EP seems to grapple with how to be the best versions of themselves amid increasing expectations and temptations.
“These songs were written when a lot of things were in flux,” Spellman told Esquire. “Lyrically, they came together at weird or rough times in certain relationships I was having. Housebroken Man is about trying to be a good boyfriend/husband/whatever and imagining and idealizing the perfect life.”
The EP concludes with a cover of Townes van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die” - complete with an assist from Jim James - signifying that despite the ratcheting worries, Quiet Life is capable of turning gut checks to gold.
Words by Brian Hodge
Photo//Video by Adam Richert