Woolly Leaves Quiet Waters

Spending serious time with Quiet Waters is the equivalent of absorbing a friend’s sudden outpouring of private thoughts and feelings. Pre-dating his membership in the Constantines, Woolly Leaves is Will Kidman’s fragile folk moniker and it’s clear that it’s a genuine exercise in personal expression. With shades of Elliott Smith and the stark intimacy of Rick White, the record begins cautiously with the quiet jangle of "Everyone Else.” It’s the first sign that Kidman is keen on writing anti-pop songs without choruses to cling to. "San Luis Rey” is a similar one-way narrative, held together by a voice and little else, and "People and Planets” is a dreamy, folk-child of Eric’s Trip, with an understated guitar solo from Kidman’s gifted multi-instrumentalist’s hands. On the mousey "Big City,” Kidman actually throws out a refrain, though it’s small and sad. Neil Young is the patron saint of Woolly Leaves, and he’s most present on "Walk with Light.” Kidman’s extraordinary ability to render simple statements profoundly here, plus the fact that it’s a live recording à la "The Needle and the Damaged Done” makes it sound like a Harvest outtake. The title track is an abstracted Hank Williams song, while "New Graffiti” is a stream-of-consciousness admission whispered in the listener’s ear. By the end of "Song for Mark,” it’s apparent that Quiet Waters is half of a conversation, and it feels almost intrusive to listen in. Powerfully intimate, it’s an insightful glimpse at Woolly Leaves. (Outside)