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Saturday 18 May 2024

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Good Life; Good Habits?

Apr 25, 2024

UK folk-fusion duo Good Habits (Pete Shaw & Bonnie Schwarz) release their bold, reflective, and collaborative folk album ‘Quarter-Life’ on the 26th of April 2024.
‘Quarter-Life’ is Good Habits’ existentially optimistic look at life in their 20s as they reflect on themselves, their influences, and their future.
It kicks off in Good Habits’ indie-folk style and takes the listener on a daring journey of versatility that the instrumentation of cello and accordion lends itself to.
The album visits moments of rocking, folkified 80s; Scandinavian-influenced folk string quartet; and gentle acoustic cello moments before returning to a joyous folk-pop finale with all the album’s collaborators singing on the final song.
Within a varied sound world that pushes the boundaries of folk, both the music and lyric writing maintain an uplifting lightness. The songwriting visits themes of imposter syndrome,anxieties, and burnout. These themes are cushioned by energizing instrumental tunes, songs of optimism, and even silliness.
Working with producer and close friend Benji Marrington-Reeve (Heron Music), the team of three have intricately woven Good Habits’ notably unique cello-accordion instrumentation into broader textures, allowing them to indulge in indie-folk sound worlds by bringing their classical and jazz influences in with them.
Together, they bring a range of influences to the table: The Unthanks, Kate Bush, The Olllam, Bon Iver, Sylvan Esso, Monique Clare, and The Police, and all seemed to have found their way into this genre-fusing folk album.
‘’With so much live performing from the get-go, we built a life for Good Habits that was gig-focused, where the live arrangements came first. Now, for the first time, we feel our live energy and personality are present in the form of a fully realized and developed studio album. We could not be prouder.’’ Bonnie and Pete
‘Quarter-Life’ will be released on all streaming platforms as well as on vinyl and CD alongside some special ‘Quarter-Life’ t-shirts.
Generously supported by Help Musicians UK and The Alan Surtees Trust, the album sees 5 featured collaborations.
Sunday ft. Kate Griffin written by Bonnie Schwarz. As the cool bass cello riff took centre stage in this track, its dynamic vibe seamlessly pairs with Kate’s vocals. This combination captures the essence and meaning of the song. ‘Sunday’ is all about embracing moments of respite without guilt—an anthem against burnout. The synergy between the lively bass and Kate’s stylings on both regular banjo and cello banjo adds a new color to Bonnie’s performance that itself musically represents taking time and standing up for yourself.
Space Buns / Hiccups ft. Alex Garden written by Pete Shaw & Shimna Higgins. Both tunes found their way into Good Habits’ live repertoire in New Zealand, but their combination and arrangement are new. Arranged, and produced by Alex Garden in a style we hear mainly as their folktronica outfit The Drystones.
360° ft. Angeline Morrison written by Pete Shaw. ‘360°’ unfolds with a unique lyrical journey. After creating the melody, harmony, and mood, Pete presents abstract lyrics in the first verse. Bonnie then interpreted these lyrics and the song took on a new meaning of anxiety and having to sit with difficult feelings. When Angeline joined, the song evolved into a comforting lullaby, a soothing melody for both the artists themselves and the listener. Gentle yet vulnerable, ‘360°’ is an emotional exchange with feelings laid bare.
Baba O’Riley ft. Lunatraktors written by The Who. The inspiration for covering ‘Baba O’Riley’ stemmed from Pete’s admiration for Keith Moon and when he discovered that the accordion could emulate the iconic synthesizer sounds of the track. Given that ‘Baba O’Riley’ explores themes of teenage rebellion, disillusionment, and the quest for identity, it found a fitting home on the album. The track served as the ideal canvas for infusing Lunatraktors’ bold energy. Carli Jefferson’s uniquely uninhibited percussion style and Clair Le Couteur’s powerful vocals were a perfect match for the song. This cover allows Good Habits to unleash their creativity, with the arrangement evolving organically under Lunatraktors’ influence.
Vinegar performed by Vulva Voce composed by Bonnie Schwarz. This tune diverges entirely from the rest of the album. Inspired by Scandinavian folk music, it was originally composed as a playful inside joke using the first rhythm of the melody derived from the sentence ‘Have you got any vinegar?’ Over time, it evolved into a more ambitious project, transforming into a composition for the feisty folk-classical quartet Vulva Voce.
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