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Quakers on Probation: Not Your Average Small Town DIY Record

Posted by May 6th, 2010 No Comments »

Quakers on Probation – Every Living Thing
By Matt Ashworth 

Positioning this debut by Yakima, Washington’s Quakers on Probation as a DIY father and son project from a not-so-hip-town (I can say that, I grew up there) does it a disservice. It is, but it’s also a superbly-crafted album with the musical chops to pay homage to its ambitious influences, namely classic songsmiths like Burt Bacharach, the Beach Boys and Graham Parker.

The songs were written by Daniel A. Craig and performed mostly by him, his son Daniel F. and Seattle musician and producer Graig Markel. They start out with two instant classics: “Pay it Forward’s” Beatlesque march and the jangly guitar of “Your Favorite Song.” Both are strong enough to seem not like tribute, but lost gems from that classic era.

At times the record boasts of that era’s weaknesses as well. The title track reeks of overproduced 70s AOR and “I Know a Woman” has similar Yacht-Rock overtones, but the record’s overall warmth and charm is enough to overcome these minor blemishes.

Perhaps that charm comes from the communal nature of the recording. As booker to Yakima’s lone credible live music venue, the Sportscenter, Craig was able to call in many notable Washington musicians who’ve frequently played his club. These include percussionists Trent Moorman (Head Like a Kite) and Joe Patterson (Animals at Night), the Dusty 45’s Billy Joe Huels on trumpet, H. Willie Hoffee (Skatgadget) on keyboards and Grammy Award winning keyboardist and producer Larry Knechtel.

There’s even a bonus track featuring friendly Colin Spring covering “Chevy Van,” an interesting choice giving Knetchel’s many credits (check him on Wikipedia, the man’s made a huge impact on popular music) include playing on the original.

Not bad for a father and son from “The Palm Springs of Washington.” – (7/10)

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