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Quiet State of Panic

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Album Review

Singer/songwriter's albums walk a fine line: throw in too much instrumentation and one runs the risk of sounding like a show-off, or raise the question, why not just form or rejoin a band?. Throw in too little and you end up sounding sparse and weedy. With A Quiet State of Panic, his second full-length album, Paul Michel has found the perfect balance, accentuating his solo status while simultaneously creating a set filled with glittering atmospheres. Bringing in a drummer, as well as a cellist for two tracks, Panic revolves around Michel's fabulous guitars, layers and layers of them, strumming, chiming, and riffing across the grooves. The fabulous production is clean enough to allow listeners to pick each one out, but dense enough to add glamour, elegance, and majesty as required to the numbers. Those familiar with Michel's work already know his influences are diverse, but that point is furthered here with extreme subtlety. The otherwise lush and brooding, cello-laced "Alone All Day," has a sliver of metal within, "Expire" hints at jazz, "The Ways and Means" nods to the Rolling Stones, "Ghost" to the Cure, and "Pianos, Silence and Bricks" to U2. Pick a style, a space in time, a genre, and Michel can take it and bend it to his will, even electro-fired sounds are transmuted here, as on "Shoot First," which is obviously inspired by the Bristol sound (e.g. Tricky and Massive Attack), his guitar dipping and dripping blues through the juttery rhythm and dubby production. The music is absolutely phenomenal, supple and shifting between bright, upbeat songs and more atmospheric, introspective numbers. Some numbers are frilled with pop, others start out sparse than swell into glorious fullness, indie-styled rockers rub shoulders with sweet, elegant ballads, outright rockers kick their way through fingerpickin' down-home numbers, with the production ensuring each is showcased in its full glory.

The sublime, thoughtful lyrics lean inevitably towards the personal and interpersonal, all delving deep into the emotional. In Michel's hands, even the Greek myth of Icarus is easily transformed into a modern morality play. The backings initially overshadows his words, pushing you to play the set again and again until all its textures, atmospheres, moods, and meanings finally break through, and each time, you'll discover yet another lyrical and musical layer to explore.

Customer Reviews

worth the wait and the money

DC music has long been dissapointing for those of us who miss the craftsmanship and quality of decades past. This record is a strong statement of music independance and refreshing melody. buy it. seriously.

great album

if you havent seen paul play, do it. its a magical experience to hear his voice over his guitar. my personal fave is alone all day (also check out his website for acoustic versions and demos).


Born: Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Singer/songwriter Paul Michel is a veteran of Washington, D.C.'s hardcore scene, but his solo work reflects a very different side of his musical personality; trading his electric guitar for an acoustic axe, he performs melodic and affecting pop songs informed by affairs of the heart. Michel began playing music as a boy when his parents arranged for him to take lessons in flamenco guitar, and as a teenager he developed a taste for jazz before diving into the Washington, D.C., rock scene. While studying...
Full Bio
Quiet State of Panic, Paul Michel
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