Unquiet Nights – 21st Century Redemption Songs – album review

Unquiet Nights: 21st Century Redemption Songs (Essential Credential)
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Belfast trio Unquiet Nights pack a powerful punch on their debut album, full of sophisticated sounds and storytelling. 

A couple of weeks ago I had an affirming surprise when a long trusted source linked me to a stream of “21st Century Redemption Songs”, the debut album by the Belfast band Unquiet Nights.

Already the auto-suggestion of the album title prepared me for a band with solid grounding in the rootsier elements of the musical spectrum, and probably an affinity for the rebellious, socially aware conscience by which modern Rock music evolved out of Folk, Gospel and Blues. Even though the overall sound of the album is more modern than I might’ve expected, I wasn’t disappointed with that first impulse. The economy of the arrangement shifts maximum focus on the songs themselves, with very little in the way of indulgence or distraction.

It would’ve been a mistake to form my opinion on the album’s lacerating opening cut ”“ “Burning The Tracks”. A fiery opener and no doubt effective in it’s aim to announce the band’s arrival on radio, it doesn’t quite hint at the sophistication to be found as the album unfolds. From “Triggerfinger”, a song about a vengeful gunslinger to the arresting narrative of the album’s closer “Letter From Abroad”, the storytelling is rich in texture and substance. “Someone’s Love on Drugs” seems to be altogether more autobiographical, and one that I feel I will continue to revisit and reinterpret in search of further meaning. That’s not something I’ve been able to say about younger bands a lot, in honesty.

With only three members listed on the album’s liner notes, Unquiet Nights are a lean unit able to pack a powerful punch when called on for louder numbers like “Shoulda Said Something” and “We Were The Ones”. Both of these seem to have gained the band welcome national exposure (Radio 1 and Absolute Radio to name only two).

On the second or third repeat of the album, tracks like the more nuanced “Silent Picture Show” began to unveil themselves and reward my indulgence. Built on a bed of layered guitar “textures”, with lyrical lead guitar phrases delivering exactly when needed, it’s an evocative listen and dare I say a genuinely original sound?

Amongst the hundreds of new and under the radar bands that I pore over weekly, as a collection of songs it’s maybe as strong as any of them I’ve heard. On that basis alone I hope they keep releasing music and evolving, and if they do I can only see their star rising.

All words by Tony Simon.

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