Land of Talk

“Quarry Hymns” – Land of Talk

As gentle and brisk as a Fleetwood Mac hit from the ’70s, “Quarry Hymns” funnels Lizzie Powell’s dynamic energy into an unexpected container, and it works with almost goosebumpy potency. Powell’s slightly fuzzy voice serves her well in Christine McVie territory like this, and her guitar playing—often tough and slashy in the past—here becomes the picture of monumental restraint. Check out how she clears the way, at last, for a solo at 3:06 and then check out how few notes she plays, and how quietly, and with what graceful dissonance. I recommend listening to the guitar throughout, as Powell is relentlessly interesting, even with the volume turned way down.

While “Quarry Hymns” is on the long side—more than five and a half minutes, which can be dangerous for pop songs—the effect is expansive rather than lengthy. Give a lot of credit to the hook in the chorus, which is so strong and effortless that it carries the song along in a timeless, almost trance-like state.

The Montreal-based Land of Talk is an established Fingertips favorite, having been featured previously in ’07, ’08, and ’09. Each song is worth checking out. Powell is the singer, songwriter, and centerpiece; the band has shape-shifted around her, with each recording offering a different iteration. They appear currently to be a trio. “Quarry Hymns” is from the group’s second full-length album, Cloak and Cipher, due out next month on Saddle Creek. MP3 via Pitchfork.