The intimacy of the City Winery listening room was the perfect setting for grassy folk trio Quiles & Cloud to share the moving music from their latest release, Shake Me Now, out in March via Compass Records. Made up of Maria Quiles, Rory Cloud, and Oscar Westesson, the three hail from the temperate climes of the San Francisco Bay area, the beauty of which seeps through every note they play.
The set began with “All My Trouble Gone,” a tune from their 2014 album Seminole Star; Westesson propelled the trio forward using his upright bass as a drum, as the rootsy timber of Quiles’ smokey voice, awash in minor keys and Celtic-like harmonies with Cloud, touched on something ancient and primal inside of us all. Quiles, who has been touring full time with Cloud for the last five years, receives inspiration from the weather encountered throughout the country; her ability to unearth the poetry hidden in the natural world is divine. The band performed “Shake Me Now,” was born in the midst of an Arizona dust storm, as well as “Black Sky Lightning,” about someone ignoring the storm on the horizon, inspired by a Nebraska hail shower. Westesson’s bow-driven deep bass notes resonated throughout the air in the room, and offered an ominous tone to “Black Sky Lightning,” as Cloud’s nasty acoustic guitar solo elicited hoops and hollers from the eager audience.
Cloud’s guitar was like an extension of his very being, and Westesson’s bass cut through the air like a hot knife though sweet butter with “On My Way Tonight,” as the velveteen edges of Quiles’ vocals create a sense of longing under a soothing veneer. The band finished their set with a not-yet-recorded tune called “One More Time”; Quiles explained that the song will appear on their next record, which chronicles the end of her romantic relationship with bandmate Cloud. The group has revealed a new facet to their process, with the vocal addition of Westesson to create lush and spine-tingling harmonic dimension to their already breathtaking sound. Their live performance is not to be missed.